Use of mental health services in Europe: results from the European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) project

J Alonso*, M C Angermeyer, S Bernert, R Bruffaerts, T S Brugha, H Bryson, G de Girolamo, R Graaf, K Demyttenaere, I Gasquet, J M Haro, S J Katz, R C Kessler, V Kovess, J P Lépine, J Ormel, G Polidori, L J Russo, G Vilagut, Josue AlmansaS Arbabzadeh-Bouchez, J Autonell, M Bernal, M A Buist-Bouwman, M Codony, A Domingo-Salvany, M Ferrer, S S Joo, M Martínez-Alonso, H Matschinger, F Mazzi, Z Morgan, P Morosini, C Palacín, B Romera, N Taub, W A M Vollebergh, ESEMeD/MHEDEA 2000 Investigators, European Study of the Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) Project

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Objective: Comprehensive information about access and patterns of use of mental health services in Europe is lacking. We present the first results of the use of health services for mental disorders in six European countries as part of the ESEMeD project.

    Method: The study was conducted in: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. Individuals aged 18 years and over who were not institutionalized were eligible for an computer-assisted interview done at home. The 21 425 participants were asked to report how frequently they consulted formal health services due to their emotions or mental health, the type of professional they consulted and the treatment they received as a result of their consultation in the previous year.

    Results: An average of 6.4% of the total sample had consulted formal health services in the previous 12 months. Of the participants with a 12-month mental disorder, 25.7% had consulted a formal health service during that period. This proportion was higher for individuals with a mood disorder (36.5%, 95% Cl 32.5-40.5) than for those with anxiety disorders (26.1%. 95% CI 23.1-29.1). Among individuals with a 12-month mental disorder who had contacted the health services 12 months previously, approximately two-thirds had contacted a mental health professional. Among those with a 12-month mental disorder consulting formal health services, 21.2% received no treatment.

    Conclusion: The ESEMeD results suggest that the use of health services is limited among Individuals with mental disorders in the European Countries studied. The factors associated with this limited access and their implications deserve further research.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)47-54
    Number of pages8
    JournalActa psychiatrica Scandinavica. Supplementum
    Issue number420
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • health services
    • accessibility
    • mental disorders
    • health policy
    • NEED

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