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Dear Reader,

In this new edition of Key Data in Healthcare, we will provide an update on the topic of ‘Mental Healthcare’ that was highlighted for the first time in 2021. 

The main goal of mental healthcare policy is to provide appropriate counselling, support and/or care to persons with mental and psychiatric problems as soon as possible. Supporting and developing the mental resilience of citizens is a common thread throughout the various forms of counselling and care. 

The mental healthcare (MHC) services in our country are very diverse, extensive and complex. There are a wide range welfare and health services that people with mental health problems can access: psychologists, psychiatrists, general practitioners, community health centres, centres for general welfare work, mental healthcare centres, sheltered housing initiatives, psychiatric nursing homes, psychiatric hospitals, psychiatric wards in general hospitals, and so on. Depending on the severity of the problem, people may be referred for more specialised assistance. It has been noted that this referral is not always a smooth process. Fragmented political competences hinder the most optimal organisation of care.

In the past, policies in both acute and more long-term care were based on a strict distinction between different services. This distinction took little account of the actual needs of patients. Based on this observation, the competent authorities chose to develop more community-orientated mental healthcare, based on the needs of persons with mental health problems and starting from their specific living and working environment. 

By making all institutions, services and initiatives in the mental healthcare sector work together as effectively as possible in networks and care circuits, the aim is to guarantee a continuous and adapted mental healthcare offering. Demand-driven mental healthcare seeks to avoid residential admissions as much as possible and to keep stays in residential settings as short as possible when admission is unavoidable. In this regard, residential care takes on a more intensive character.

The path of socialising care is being continued and expanded. With this in mind, a protocol agreement on the coordinated approach to strengthening the provision of primary psychological care was concluded during the Interministerial Conference on Public Health (IMC) on December 2 2020. This agreement was mainly about strengthening the supply of care in primary care to provide readily accessible and affordable care. In accordance with the perspective of ‘Public mental health’, available resources and scientific knowledge, the emphasis is on group care, early intervention, and early detection. The individual with a mental health complaint receives personalised care based on a distributed, integrated, collaborative, proactive and multidisciplinary care offering. Local accessibility of care and to healthcare providers is a central element of this convention. 

In this updated edition of Key Data, we focus on the one hand on the offering and activity in psychiatric hospitals (PH) and psychiatric departments of general hospitals (PDGH) both for children and adolescents and for adults. We will zoom in further on the organisation regarding the care of patients. A subsequent chapter highlights some mental healthcare reform initiatives. Finally, a number of policy projects are explained that aim to provide specific target groups with tailored care offerings. This includes projects relating to addiction treatment, eating disorders, victims of sexual violence and cross-cultural mediation. 

We hope you enjoy reading this new edition.


Sabine Stordeur,

Director-General Healthcare