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Planning and providing mental health services for a community 

Planning and providing mental health services for a community
Planning and providing mental health services for a community

Tom Burns

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date: 20 May 2022

The aim of this chapter is to assist clinicians and managers review and plan services effectively for their local population. Severe psychiatric disorders manifest themselves in social relations and often disrupt social structures; they have wide-ranging consequences and services need to be comprehensive. Health and social care have been intertwined in psychiatry from its origins—it is neither feasible nor sensible to ignore the wider context of their management. The last 30 years have seen an explosion of Mental Health Services Research alongside the shrinking and closure of mental hospitals (see Chapter 7.6). Policy considerations, particularly cost containment and public safety, have influenced the research agenda which is disproportionately Anglophone (from the United States, United Kingdom, and Australasia) and focused on new services developed as alternatives to institutional care with staffing and motivation that are not easily generalizable. More routine practices, crucial for safe and effective care, have been relatively neglected by researchers. This chapter is mainly devoted to describing the essential components of a mental health service—its ‘building blocks’. It will then consider how they relate to one another, how they can be prioritized, and how integrated into an effective local service linking into other essential services. Lastly it will stress how their inevitable evolution should be monitored. Services for adults (increasingly referred to as ‘adults of working age’ indicating 18–65 years) will be used as the template. In many settings these may be the only services, stretching to accommodate all comers. In better resourced health care systems a range of specialized services have evolved from this basic model and are described elsewhere in this section (refugees 7.10.1, homeless 7.10.2, and ethnic minorities 7.10.3).

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