Shivat Zion

PSychiatric Services

Sherutei Briut Hanefesh
שרותי בריאות הנפש
Last updated: 02.07.2023
The above guide was created based on information compiled for Get Help Israel by Dr. Hadar Marom Harel.
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Psychiatric services in Israel are provided in both public and private settings. The following is a brief explanation of outpatient services provided through the public system, as well as a brief outline of some differences between the public and private settings.

According to the National Health Insurance Law of 1994, every Israeli resident is entitled to health care services through one of the four Kupot Cholim ( קופות חולים) Health Care Providers, which are, in order of size, Clalit, Maccabi, Meuchedet and Leumit. In the past, mental health care services fell under the responsibility of the Government rather than the Kupot.

In June 2015 Israel underwent HaReforma BeBriut HaNefesh (הרפורמה בבריאות הנפש) Mental Health Care Reform, which transferred the responsibility for providing mental health care services from the Government to the Kupot Cholim. Click here for a brief explanation.

Note: To learn more about the Sal Shikum ( סל שיקום) rehabilitation basket for the mentally ill, click here.

Psychiatric Services provided by the Kupot Cholim

Since 2015, with the implementation of the reform, psychiatric services are included in the medical services that are provided by the Kupot Cholim. There are 4 settings in which ambulatory (non admission) mental health care is provided in the public sector, all of them provided via the Kupot Cholim:

These are multidisciplinary clinics that provide psychiatric, psychological and rehabilitation services. Clinic staff members include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and may also include occupational therapists, art therapists and dietitians. Within the clinics there is potential for consultation between the different caregivers. Centers may offer a wider range of services, including group therapy sessions. There is no fee for services in these centers, beyond the fees required for Kupa membership.

Independent psychiatrists are affiliated with the Kupot and are located either within the Kupat Holim, or in their own private clinics. Some clients find it more discreet to meet a psychiatrist at a private clinic rather than at a multidisciplinary Mirpa’at Briut HaNefesh ( מרפאת בריאות הנפש) Mental Health Clinic. There is generally no fee for psychiatric services in this setting, beyond the fee for consulting a specialist through your Kupa. 
(Similarly, most Kupot employ Independent Psychologists who provide psychological services in private clinics. Consultation with Independent Psychologists often entails a subsidized fee.)

Most major hospitals in Israel and all of the mental health care hospitals provide psychiatric services through their outpatient clinics. Since the implementation of the reform, in some cases it is possible to receive a referral as well as a financial commitment to subsidize treatment (‘Tofes 17”) from your Kupa to receive service in an outpatient setting. Your Kupa may restrict the number of sessions that you receive in such a setting. Reasons for being referred to an outpatient clinic might include long waiting times for Kupa services, or specialty services at the Outpatient Clinics are not available through the Kupa.

Emergency psychiatric services are provided in every emergency room in Israel, including the ERs of psychiatric as well as general hospitals. It is important to remember that there is a psychiatrist on site or on call at all hospitals, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including weekends, holidays etc. Emergency services are free of charge in cases of suicidal ideation, drug poisoning/ intoxication, or psychosis. There may be a fee for services in other cases.

There are several advantages to public psychiatry. The following are points to consider:

  • Psychiatrists in the Kupat Cholim have access to your medical records, including diagnoses, medications, and medical evaluations. This might be advantageous in cases in which there are additional medical conditions or an extensive or prolonged psychiatric history.
  • Your psychiatric record in the Kupat Cholim is confidential and can be seen only by other mental health care professionals within the Kupa; however, medications purchased using a Kupat Cholim prescription can be seen by additional specialists in the Kupa. It is generally advantageous for the medical team to know what psychiatric medications you are taking in order to avoid drug interactions.
  • There are cases in which there is an advantage to being cared for by different therapists who work together and are able to communicate with each other, as available through the Kupa, particularly in their Mirpa’ot Briut HaNefesh clinics.
  • Some specialty psychiatric services are provided only through Hospital Outpatient Clinics. This might be the case for the treatment of eating disorders and autistic spectrum disorders, for example. Your Kupat Cholim psychiatrist has information regarding these services and can refer you to them.
  • Waiting times may vary between the different services. You may be referred to a Hospital Outpatient Clinic for therapy due to there being a long wait for psychotherapy, for example, within the Kupa.

Psychiatric Services Provided by Private Practices

Alongside the public service, psychiatric services are also provided by private psychiatrists. There is a fee for private psychiatric consultation. 
Advantages of choosing care in the private sector might include:

Private clinics may be more discrete. Private psychiatrists do not have access to your Kupat Holim records and do not update these records with your medical information.

Often there are long waiting lists for services in the public setting. Private psychiatrists may have greater availability.

In the private setting you can directly choose a therapist/psychiatrist. This might be especially significant when looking for English-speaking therapists, for example.

There may be more flexibility of hours and scheduling with a private therapist.

If you are visiting in Israel and are not covered by local health insurance you may not have access to services through the Kupot Cholim.

During this time of national crisis, Get Help Israel – The Israel Association of Mental Health Professionals established a program to assist the people in Israel who are affected emotionally and psychologically by the current war.

You can now receive one on one free support from a therapist for any issue related to the current war, online for a 50 minute session. You are eligible for 3 free sessions through this program.

If you are returning from IDF service, you are eligible to receive subsidized trauma therapy or through GHI’s non-profit organization: The Get Help Israel Fund for up to 10 free sessions. Please email crisis.support@gethelpisrael.com to request this service.

Therapy is available in multiple languages, including English, Hebrew, Russian, French, Yiddish, Spanish, and Dutch.

This program is set up as a service that connects clients with therapists for free emotional support. Therapeutic services are offered by clinicians through their private practice.

For more information click here.