Services for mental disorders

Services for mental disorders

Services for mental disorders offer treatments, support and/or advocacy to people judged to have mental disorders (mental illnesses).

Medical services

Family practice (general practice) centers in communities are commonly the first line for assessment of mental health conditions, and may prescribe psychiatric drugs and sometimes provide basic counseling or therapy for "common mental disorders". Secondary medical services may include psychiatric hospitals, although since deinstitutionalization these have been restricted in favor of wards within general hospitals, and community mental health services based more locally.

Such services may be provided on an inpatient or, more commonly, outpatient basis. They may offer a range of treatments, usually centered around psychiatric drugs, and be provided by a range of mental health professionals, notably psychiatrists and psychiatric and mental health nurses. Non-medical professions may also be involved, such as clinical psychologists, social workers and various kinds of therapists or counselors. Usually headed by psychiatrists and therefore based on a medical model, multidisiplinary teams may be involved in Assertive community treatment and "Early intervention", and may be coordinated via a case management system (sometimes referred to as "service coordination").

Individual therapy services

Numerous services exist exclusively for the therapy of mental disorders/distress. They may offer Integrative Psychotherapy (an eclectic tailored mix of approaches) or a particular approach, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

ocial care services

Community services often include Supported housing with full or partial supervision, including "halfway houses". Social workers and Support workers provide support and advocacy.

Consumer/Survivor/Ex-Patient Services

Many Consumer/Survivor/Ex-patient organizations provide services for those labeled as having a mental disorder. A number of charities providing services are "consumer-led". There are self-help/mutual support groups and day centers or clubhouses. [McLean, A. (2003). [ Recovering Consumers and a Broken Mental Health System in the United States: Ongoing Challenges for Consumers/ Survivors and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Part I: Legitimization of the Consumer Movement and Obstacles to It.] International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 8, 47-57] [McLean, A. (2003) [ Recovering Consumers and a Broken Mental Health System in the United States: Ongoing Challenges for Consumers/ Survivors and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. Part II: Impact of Managed Care and Continuing Challenges] International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 8, 58-70.]

Traditional healing centers

Traditional healering centers provide a popular and accessible service across the African continent and other areas of the world, and often deal with mental disorders. [Ngoma MC, Prince M, Mann A (2003) [ Common mental disorders among those attending primary health clinics and traditional healers in urban Tanzania.] Br J Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;183:349-55.] [Center for Advocacy in Mental Health [ Role of Traditional Healing Centers (THCs) in Mental Health Service Delivery] ]

Legal services

Legal services exist to regulate and supervise the involuntary commitment or outpatient commitment of those judged to have mental disorders and to be a danger to themselves or others. Some legal organizations provide specialized services for those diagnosed with mental disorders who may be challenging discrimination or involuntary commitment. Mental health courts are specialized court dockets exist in some places to provide community treatment and supervision in lieu of incarceration for criminal offenders with mental illness.

Global situation

A Global Mental Health Group in coordination with the World Health Organization has called for an urgent scaling up of the funding, staffing and coverage of services for mental disorders in all countries, especially in low-income and middle-income countries. [Lancet Global Mental Health Group, Chisholm D, Flisher AJ, Lund C, Patel V, Saxena S, Thornicroft G, Tomlinson M. (2007) [ Scale up services for mental disorders: a call for action] Lancet. Oct 6;370(9594):1241-52.] [World Health Organization [ WHO urges more investments, services for mental health] WHO website, September 2007]

According to the Recovery model, services must always support an individual's personal journey of recovery and independence, and a person may or may not need services at any particular time, or at all.


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