Population level of unmet need for mental healthcare in Europe

Jordi Alonso, M. Codony, V. Kovess, M. C. Angermeyer, S. J. Katz, J. M. Haro, G. De Girolamo, R. De Graaf, K. Demyttenaere, G. Vilagut, J. Almansa, J. Pierre Lépine, T. S. Brugha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The high prevalence of mental disorders has fuelled controversy about the need for mental health services. Aims: To estimate unmet need for mental healthcare at the population level in Europe. Method: As part of the European Study of Epidemiology of Mental Disorders (ESEMeD) project, a cross-sectional survey was conducted of representative samples of the adult general population of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain (n=8796). Mental disorders were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0. Individuals with a 12-month mental disorder that was disabling or that had led to use of services in the previous 12 months were considered in need of care. Results: About six per cent of the sample was defined as being in need of mental healthcare. Nearly half (48%) of these participants reported no formal healthcare use. In contrast, only 8% of the people with diabetes had reported no use of services for their physical condition. In total, 3.1% of the adult population had an unmet need for mental healthcare. About 13% of visits to formal health services were made by individuals without any mental morbidity. Conclusions: There is a high unmet need for mental care in Europe, which may not be eliminated simply by reallocating existing healthcare resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue numberAPR.
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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