Lifetime treatment contact and delay in treatment seeking after first onset of a mental disorder

Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Oct;64(10):981-9. doi: 10.1176/


Objective: This study examined lifetime treatment contact and delays in treatment seeking, including rates for receipt of helpful treatment, after the onset of specific mental disorders and evaluated factors that predicted treatment seeking and delays in treatment seeking.

Methods: Data were from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2, a nationally representative, face-to-face survey of the general population aged 18-64 (N=6,646). DSM-IV diagnoses, treatment contact, and respondents' perception of treatment helpfulness were assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0.

Results: The proportion of respondents with lifetime mental disorders who made lifetime treatment contact ranged from 6.5% to 56.5% for substance use disorders and from 75.3% to 91.4% for mood disorders. Delays in initial treatment contact varied among persons with mood disorders (median=0 years), substance use disorders (0-4 years), impulse-control disorders (4-8 years), and anxiety disorders (0-19 years). The proportion of respondents who received helpful treatment ranged from 33.5% for substance use disorders to 69.5% for mood disorders. Men, older cohorts, and respondents with younger age at onset of the disorder generally were more likely to have no lifetime treatment contact, to have longer treatment delay, and to have not received helpful treatment.

Conclusions: There was substantial variation in lifetime treatment contact and delays in initial treatment contact by mental disorder. Lifetime treatment contact, delays in treatment seeking, and receipt of helpful treatment did not vary by educational level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy
  • Delayed Diagnosis / psychology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / psychology
  • Disruptive, Impulse Control, and Conduct Disorders / therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / psychology
  • Mood Disorders / therapy*
  • Netherlands
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sex
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • Young Adult