There has been almost no research into mental health services in Eastern Europe. A pathways study is a quick and useful starting point, requiring few resources.
To improve understanding of prior care-seeking and treatment of new patients seen at mental health services.
Pathways diagrams were drawn showing the routes of care-seeking for 50 new patients in eight centres. Patterns of care-seeking, durations and previous treatments were compared for ICD–10 diagnostic groups.
The diagnoses varied according to the organisation of services. Major pathways included general practitioners, direct access and hospital doctors. General practitioners have a limited role as ‘gatekeeper’ in centres in Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia–Montenegro, and rarely prescribed treatment, except sedatives, for mental disorders.
Findings highlight areas that require attention if aspirations for community-oriented mental health care are to be realised, particularly integration of mental health into primary care.
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