Introduction

The policy regarding mental healthcare (MHC) in Belgium is partly the competence of the communities and regions and partly the competence of the federal government. To encourage cohesion, the Inter-Ministerial Conference on Public Health (IMC Public Health) was set up. The protocols of this IMC form the basis for the various reforms in mental healthcare in Belgium.

The reforms focus on target groups according to their age. As such, the reforms for “Adults” and “Children and Young people” have already been translated into pilot projects in which this new policy is gradually put into practice on a voluntary basis. Ultimately, these projects should result in new regulations and funding. Steps are currently being taken to prepare a new MHC policy for the “Elderly” target group.

Two themes are the guiding principle through these reforms, namely the “Socialisation of mental healthcare” and “Network collaboration”.

Socialisation means that as much care as possible is provided in the patient’s immediate environment, including for severe psychiatric disorders. If hospitalisation is unavoidable, the stay should be as short as possible. The follow-up care is transferred to extra-mural care providers as rapidly as possible. This principle implies that the hospital care is intensified.

Network collaboration means that care providers and actors work together to realise personalised care pathways, based on the individual healthcare needs of patients.

This edition of the Key data will not cover the range of care providers that are part of these MHC networks, but we will focus on the effect that this way of working can have on the hospital landscape and the functioning of psychiatric hospitals (PH) and psychiatric departments of general hospitals (PDGH).

The care offering for “Adults” and “Children and Young people” differ to such an extent, and are on such a different scale, that it was decided to break down the data according to these target groups.