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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 35 (1993) 10

New research

The neighbourhood as a key: social indicators and the use of mental health services

N.C.H.F. Gunther, E.O. Noorthoorn, H.J.F.R. Hamers, J.T.V.M. de Jong, Ch.D. Kaplan, M.W. de Vries

The most important social task of the mental health care system is to provide help to people who are in need. The effectivity of this task is an important question. In this regard, the extent to which the mental health care system reaches those groups that need help most is one key aspect of assessing the effectivity of the care system. Focusing on the neighbourhood as a key the utilisation of care has been studied, producing comparative results that have implications for prevention.

The Maastricht Mental Health Case Register has been used to provide data on differences in social indicators between neighbourhoods. Comparisons could be made by means of a principle component analysis. Two factors emerged as significant: social disorganization and education. 57% of the variance in utilisation of care could be explained by social disorganization. The utilisation of special services involved a selective consumption process whereby persons from areas with a relatively high degree of social disorganization have more contacts with the teams of the Community Mental Health Centre, the outpatient and inpatient services of the General Psychiatric Hospital, the County Hospital and the emergency services.