After 45 years, people with mental health disabilities may soon have better access to welfare services. A directive from the Ministry of Welfare that had denied this coverage has been revoked following a demand by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Bizchut: The Israel Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities, other organizations, and the Sderot Municipality.
Previously, welfare offices would often not deal with people with mental health disabilities and their families. Instead, they would usually refer them to the mental health system for assistance. This caused a bureaucratic nightmare that left key assistance, such as food aid or supplementary educational services for their children, out of reach.
While acknowledging this progress, Attorney Maskit Bendel from ACRI explains that there is a great deal of work ahead.
“For many years, the Ministry of Welfare has been doing what it wants and preventing people with mental health disabilities from receiving assistance in social services offices in an abusive and illegal manner,” she said. “Although the Ministry of Welfare accepted our claims and informed us that it had canceled the directive, it has not yet set an arrangement in its place or made clear the timeline for implementing changes. We call upon the Minister of Welfare to immediately inform all its offices to receive any person who appeals to them, without discrimination.”