Sal shikum Benefits in Israel
In English, Sal shikum is literally translated as “basket of rehabilitation”, which refers here to a group of services provided by the Israeli Ministry of Health specifically before adults diagnosed with mental health challenges.
This program is only for those individuals who have a current mental health diagnosis, and:
· Are currently receiving at least 40% medical disability from bituach leumi,
· Have requested eligibility status by the regional psychiatrist’s office of the Israel Ministry of Health
But what does that mean exactly? A person needs to have applied to Bituach leumi disability benefits, and have current documentation that they are receiving at least 40% medical disability from a diagnosis under category 33 (Organic mental disorders, schizophrenia and delusional disorders) or category 34 (Mood disorders like affective disorders, anxiety disorders, stress-dependent disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders and eating disorders). Click here to see the full list of accepted disorders in bituach leumi (in Hebrew).
However, even if you do not have standing with bituach leumi, meaning you have not applied to bituach leumi at all, not that you have applied and been rejected, you CAN STILL APPLY for sal shikum benefits.
Why wouldn’t I have applied for bituach leumi?
Several reasons. 1) You made Aliyah less than a year ago so you are not yet eligible to apply for bituach leumi stipends 2) For whatever reason you would not meet bituach leumi’s financial criteria to apply for disability or 3) there is a stigma in your community, or with you personally, about receiving bituach leumi support.
How does one apply sal shikum benefits?
The most straightforward, but that may often take the longest, is through the mirpa’at briyut hanefesh, or mental health clinic, of your health fund. This is not the regular local clinic but rather the mental health branch. Depending on your area, this will either be a clinic directly managed by the health fund, or a non profit organization that acts as your health fund’s mental health clinic. The difference really only means whether a referral is enough or whether you will need to get a hitchayvut, or voucher, to attend the clinic.
You do not need a referral to make an appointment with this clinic. However, you need to complete forms, online or via email, and submit them to your health fund.
You want to make an appointment with the social worker who handles intake and requests for sal shikum. Some centers require that you meet with the psychiatrist first and then s/he refers you to the social worker, and only then can you begin the intake process, which can take months. If you already have disability status with bituach leumi, than chances are that you are already in follow up with a psychiatrist, and they can complete that section of the application. You will need a psychiatrist report and signature, so if you are not currently seeing someone, you can go see someone through the mental health clinic staff. Just note that this will delay the process considerably since there is a lack of psychiatrists in general in this country, and even more so working with the public system.
Once you have gone through intake with the social worker (this make take 2-3 meetings, depending on the social worker, type of clinic and location) s/he will submit the paperwork to the sal shikum committee in your geographic area. This is a list of all the lishkot (offices) of the Ministry of Health that handle these rehabilitative services.
If you have a relationship with a psychiatrist, and have a recent social worker report, you may apply directly to the committee. They may give you a hard time and say that you can only apply through the health fund, but this blatantly not true, and it is your right to apply directly to the committee.
The actual programming of these services depends largely on the needs of the individual, meaning it is a tailor-made program, constructed together with the client (patient), by the regional rehabilitation committee [part of the Israel Ministry of Health].
In general, however, the recipient is entitled to the following services:
- · Treatment Services
- · Employment Assistance
- · Housing
- · Life skills assistance
- · Additional Benefits
The program can consist of one/combination of the following services, that can change over time:
· In patient program (residential program where the client will live for a period of time)
· Day program
· Ongoing therapeutic treatment by a clinical social worker, psychiatrist, psychologist
· Supervised/structured work situation
· Life skills assistance by a social worker/counselor (with a frequency that is suitable for the client)
· Person may receive work assistance through working in sheltered factories or other sheltered business situations
· Regular work environment by means of supported employment
· Anyone interested in starting a business can receive rehabilitation support and guidance, as necessary and without time limit. The service is provided in cooperation with the Agency for Small Businesses and The Joint Israel.
· Assistance in financing studies may also be provided for whom it is relevant.
Housing (Each framework has different levels of staff supervision/guidance)
· Live in residence for a therapeutic program
· Long-term live-in residence (sheltered housing)
· Semi-independent housing
· Living alone or with family
Life skills assistance
If the person chooses to live alone/at home, s/he are entitled to the following services:
· Mentoring services – Assistance from a counselor whose job is to help develop social skills and find suitable recreational activities.
· Support aide services – Assistance from a counselor whose job is to help develop housekeeping skills such as shopping, making appointments, cooking and cleaning.
· Academic mentoring (supported academic education)
· Social clubs
· Dental care – This is free/ heavily subsidized care done through subcontracted providers and not the health fund clinics. Note of caution that the dentistry work may not be at the same level as other care, so take that in to account when accessing services.
· Assistance purchasing equipment from the Ministry of Health’s Rehabilitation Fund. This can be a voucher for large appliances like a washer or refrigerator.
· Assistance in the purchase of basic home furnishings, if needed
· Rental assistance – For those clients living on their own, they can apply for rental subsidies.