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Psychiatric outpatient clinics 

Psychiatric outpatient clinics
Psychiatric outpatient clinics
Oxford Textbook of Community Mental Health

Thomas Becker

and Markus Koesters


Specialist psychiatric outpatient services have not, in recent years, been a priority of either the conceptual development or the study of community mental health care. General (or psychiatric) hospitals or community mental health team bases — at all of which outpatient clinics are held — can be considered community based as they are all located ‘in the community’. However, there may have been an implicit assumption that services should be considered community based only if conceptually they have moved away from hospitals or other institutions. Also, the outpatient clinic model, in its traditional form, has been ‘single-handed’. As such, outpatient clinics lack multidisciplinary input. A recent review of the community-based United Kingdom mental health care system, however, suggests that outpatient clinics are reported by more than two-thirds of so-called local implementation teams (Glover, 2007). There may also be a current trend towards specialized clinics for subgroups of patients, e.g. people with affective disorders, mentally disordered offenders, young adults, new mothers, patients with neuroses and eating disorders. Also, there may be a degree of under-reporting of outpatient clinics in surveys of local mental health services (Glover, 2007). Historically, these services have been a core element in the provision of psychiatric treatment, and it is likely that outpatient care continues to be a service element meeting important clinical needs in a large number of people with mental disorders.

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