Objectives: This study examined the use of primary health care, mental health care, and informal care services, as well as unmet care needs, by individuals with different psychiatric diagnoses.
Methods: Data were derived from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study and were based on a representative sample (n = 7147) of the general population (aged 18-64 years).
Results: In a 12-month period, 33.9% of those with a psychiatric disorder used some form of care; 27.2% used primary care, and 15.3% used mental health care. Patients with mood disorders were the most likely to enlist professional care; those with alcohol- and drug-related disorders were the least likely to do so. Higher educated persons who live alone, single parents, unemployed persons, and disabled persons were more likely to use mental health care. Unmet need for professional help was reported by 16.8% (men 9.9%, women 23.9%) of those with a disorder.
Conclusions: Care use varies widely by diagnostic category. The role of general medical practitioners in treating persons with psychiatric disorders is more limited than was anticipated. Patients in categories associated with extensive use of professional care are more likely to have unmet care needs.