Since the 1960s, French public mental health services are organised in "sectors", each sector catering for a mean population of 54,000 inhabitants. Although this organisation was aimed at insuring equal access to care whatever the place of residence, there are still huge disparities in number of staff and bed resources from one sector to another. The reduction in the number of hospital beds started later in France than in most other European countries, and was really effective in the 1990s. In 2000, there were 9.4 beds for 10,000 inhabitants aged over 20 years. Hospital-based care has still an overwhelming importance, and is associated with a marked under-development of community services and lack of sheltered housing for the most disabled patients. With more than 13,000 registered psychiatrists in France, the density of psychiatrists is one of the highest in the world. However, French psychiatry has currently to face a structural crisis due to the reduction in public health budgets, as well as to the reduction of 30% in the number of French psychiatrists over the next two decades. The numerous national programmes aimed at renovating French mental health services, published over the last decade, have not yet kept their promises.