Demand for mental health care and changes in service use patterns in the Netherlands, 1979 to 1995

Margreet Ten Have*, Vivian Meertens, Peer Scheepers, Manfred Te Grotenhuis, Aartjan Beekman, Wilma Vollebergh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: Mental health services appear increasingly incapable of satisfying the demand for care, which may cause some segments of the population to be less effectively reached. This study investigated the rates of use of mental health services in the Netherlands from 1979 to 1995 and examined whether particular sociodemographic groups made greater or lesser relative use of these services over time. Methods: Data were derived from the Facilities Use Surveys, a series of Dutch cross-sectional population studies that have recorded household characteristics and service use since 1979. More than 28,000 households were included in the analyses. Results: The overall use of mental health services virtually doubled from 1979 to 1995; a particularly steep rise was seen in the first half of the 1980s. Households that had one parent, that had low income, that were dependent on benefits, and that were younger all had greater odds of using both specialized mental health care (for example, prevention programs for mental health problems and psychotherapeutic and social psychiatric treatment offered by psychologists, psychotherapists, or psychiatrists) and social work services (for example, psychosocial counseling and practical support offered by social workers to people with social problems, such as housing, finances, and psychosocial issues). Households with low education were less likely to use specialized mental health care but were more likely to use social work services. Nonreligious households and urban households were more likely to use specialized mental health care and were equally likely to use social work services. Overall, these relative use patterns did not change over time. Conclusions: Despite greater pressures on mental health services and the many changes in service delivery in recent decades, relative patterns of help seeking and referral to mental health services have not varied systematically over time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1415
Number of pages7
JournalPsychiatric Services
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

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