Objective: To describe patterns of service use for emotional reasons or mental health in adult, non-institutionalised Belgians.
Method: A representative random sample of non-institutionalised inhabitants from Belgium aged 18 or older (N = 2419) were interviewed between April 2001 and June 2002. The interview was performed by lay interviewers using the most recent version of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI-2000). Apart from assessing mental disorders, the participants were asked to report their formal health services utilization due to their emotions or mental health in the past 12 months.
Results: About 11% reported the presence of a mental disorder in the past 12 months, of which one in three consulted a formal health service. Persons with a mood disorder were most likely to seek help (43%), followed by those with anxiety (38%) or an alcohol disorder (17%). General practitioners were consulted most often, sometimes combined with a psychiatrist. Among those who sought help, the majority received pharmacological treatment (sometimes combined with psychological treatment), and up to 25% did not receive any treatment.
Conclusion: The utilization of formal health services for emotional raisons or mental health is very limited in Belgium. Moreover, a considerable proportion of those who sought help, did not get an appropriate treatment.