Mental health care institutions in nine European countries, 2002 to 2006

Psychiatr Serv. 2008 May;59(5):570-3. doi: 10.1176/ps.2008.59.5.570.


Objective: Although mental health reforms in the 20th century were characterized by deinstitutionalization, previous research suggested a new era of reinstitutionalization in six European countries between 1990 and 2002. This study aimed to establish whether there has been a trend in Europe toward more institutionalized care since 2002.

Methods: Primary data sources were used to collect data on conventional inpatient beds, involuntary hospital admissions, forensic beds, places in residential care and supervised and supported housing, and the prison population in nine countries: Austria, Denmark, England, Germany, Republic of Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland.

Results: Between 2002 and 2006 the number of conventional psychiatric inpatient beds tended to fall and changes in involuntary admissions were inconsistent. The number of forensic beds, places in supervised and supported housing, and the prison population increased in most, but not all, of the countries studied.

Conclusions: The findings suggest an ongoing although not consistent trend toward increasing provision of institutionalized mental health care across Europe.

MeSH terms

  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, Psychiatric / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Institutionalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*