Common mental disorder severity and its association with treatment contact and treatment intensity for mental health problems

Psychol Med. 2013 Oct;43(10):2203-13. doi: 10.1017/S0033291713000135. Epub 2013 Feb 7.


Background: Detailed population-based survey information on the relationship between the severity of common mental disorders (CMDs) and treatment for mental health problems is heavily based on North American research. The aim of this study was to replicate and expand existing knowledge by studying CMD severity and its association with treatment contact and treatment intensity in The Netherlands.

Method: Data were obtained from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2 (NEMESIS-2), a nationally representative face-to-face survey of the general population aged 18–64 years (n=6646, response rate=65.1%). DSM-IV diagnoses and disorder severity were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Version 3.0 (CIDI 3.0). Treatment contact refers to at least one contact for mental health problems made in the general medical care (GMC) or mental health care (MHC) sector. Four levels of treatment intensity were assessed, based on type and duration of therapy received.

Results: Although CMD severity was related to treatment contact, only 39.0% of severe cases received MHC. At the same time, 40.3% of MHC users did not have a 12-month disorder. Increasing levels of treatment intensity ranged from 51.6% to 13.0% in GMC and from 81.4% to 51.1% in MHC. CMD severity was related to treatment intensity in MHC but not in GMC. Sociodemographic characteristics were not significantly related to having experienced the highest level of treatment intensity in MHC. CONCLUSIONS. Mental health treatment in the GMC sector should be improved, especially when policy is aimed at increasing the role of primary care in the management of mental health problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Young Adult