The Special Committee on Welfare and Labor Affairs convened on Thursday to discuss the availability of mental health services during the corona crisis. Dr. Tal Bergman Levy, head of Mental Health Services at the Ministry of Health, said that during the corona crisis psychiatric hospitals are “required to implement risk management because they are at greater risk due to the characteristics of the patients.”

“There is no doubt that the criteria for hospitalization are not as they are in routine times,” she said, while noting that during the corona crisis the health maintenance organizations, in coordination with the Health Ministry, keep people who would normally be hospitalized in the community.

Responding to a claim made by Committee Chairwoman MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) that some psychiatric patients are evacuated from wards to make room for corona patients, Dr. Bergman Levy said, “We are providing worthy alternatives. There are those who can be released from hospitalization. I understand the frustration, but in medicine, one risk is weighed against another. There are very difficult decisions. The day treatments are open.”

Committee Chairwoman MK Touma-Sliman said: “I fear that we will lose people who are not connected to the corona.”

Dr. Bergman Levy said in response that “currently there is no significant increase in distress-related (requests for help) by the citizens of Israel. We may see such an increase in the future. We cannot provide an immediate solution for everyone at once. We thought of proving initial and temporary intervention, which can be done quickly. Therefore, there is a proposal to hold a 30-minute conversation for the purpose of an initial evaluation, and those who will need (treatment) beyond this will be transferred to the full care of the mental health system.”

Dr. Bergman Levy said such a plan could be implemented within two weeks.