Community-based Mental Health Services in Norway

Consort Psychiatr. 2021 Mar 20;2(1):47-54. doi: 10.17816/CP43.


Community-based mental healthcare in Norway consists of local community mental health centres (CMHCs) collaborating with general practitioners and primary mental healthcare in the municipalities, and with psychiatrists and psychologists working in private practices. The CMHCs were developed from the 1980s to give a broad range of comprehensive mental health services in local catchment areas. The CMHCs have outpatient clinics, mobile teams, and inpatient wards. They serve the larger group of patients needing specialized mental healthcare, and they also collaborate with the hospital-based mental health services. Both CMHCs and hospitals are operated by 19 health trusts with public funding. Increasing resources in community-based mental healthcare was a major aim in a national plan for mental health between 1999 and 2008. The number of beds has decreased in CMHCs the last decade, while there has been an increase in mobile teams including crisis resolution teams (CRTs), early intervention teams for psychosis and assertive community treatment teams (ACT teams). Team-based care for mental health problems is also part of primary care, including care for patients with severe mental illnesses. Involuntary inpatient admissions mainly take place at hospitals, but CMHCs may continue such admissions and give community treatment orders for involuntary treatment in the community. The increasing specialization of mental health services are considered to have improved services. However, this may also have resulted in more fragmented services and less continuity of care from service providers whom the patients know and trust. This can be a particular problem for patients with severe mental illnesses. As the outcomes of routine mental health services are usually not measured, the effects of community-based mental care for the patients and their families, are mostly unknown.

Keywords: Norway; community mental health centres; community psychiatry; community-based mental healthcare; mental health services.

Publication types

  • Review