The regional law, which introduces the psychology service in primary care within the territorial network of the Lombardy health service, including community homes, was approved yesterday with a bipartisan vote in the Pirellone chamber. The legislation, known as “basic psychologist”is made up of eight articles and includes a total financing of 36 million euros (12 million per year) for the three-year period 2024-2026.
The law, initially proposed by the regional council, is based on a fundamental principle: giving the care of the mind the same importance and attention reserved for care of the body. Patrizia Baffi, member of Fratelli d’Italia and president of the Health Commission as well as rapporteur of the provision, underlines that the law aims to guarantee an immediate response to mental health needs through first level medicine.
What the law will be
The new service will have as its main objective the prevention, diagnosis and early intervention in the case of psychological distress. Furthermore, it will provide orientation and accompaniment towards second level specialist services, socio-health and social services. Counseling and psychological support will also be offered for forms of suffering that do not necessarily require specialized interventions.
The Milanese Democratic Party, among the first supporters of the proposal, underlined the importance of making the figure of the psychologist accessible to all, especially considering the growing psychological distress among adolescents and young people. For the party, a professional psychologist will be present in each community house which you can contact directly, without the need for a medical prescription.
Paola Pizzighini, of the 5 Star Movement, highlights that intercepting and preventing represent the main way to treat mental disorders. The 5 Stars abstained from voting on an amendment, presented by Alessandro Cantoni of Lombardia Ideale, which increases the assets of the Foundation for biomedical research by 3.7 million. This amendment was approved by secret vote and caused some controversy as it was considered inappropriate and unusual by the majority.
The other regions
However, Lombardy is not the first region to make a law in this regard: in May 2023, Puglia has also taken a significant step towards the implementation of the basic psychologist service, with the unanimous approval of the bill by the regional council. Psychologists who practice the profession will be called by the local health authorities to provide primary psychological assistance in collaboration with general practitioners and paediatricians of free choice. Each local health authority will have to implement the service, e 450 thousand euros have been allocated for 2023, a figure that will increase to one and a half million in subsequent years.
The figure of the basic psychologist is increasingly in demand in Puglia, as highlighted by a recent BiDiMedia survey conducted among adult citizens of Puglia. The results indicate that one in three Apulians has already benefited from an interview or intervention by a psychologist at least once in their life. This percentage increases to 38% among women, 46% among those under 45 and 44% among those with a high level of education (degree or diploma).
Also there Sicily guaranteed one financial coverage for the basic psychologist of approximately 7.4 million eurosstarting in 2024.