A service based on the principle that the comprehensive mental health needs of a community can be more efficiently met by supporting the existing primary care services has been developed in the North Aylesbury Vale, Buckinghamshire, England. The Buckingham Project is a home-based mental health service and caters for a rapidly expanding rural community of approximately thirty five thousand people between the ages of 16 and 65 years. Professional support is provided to the services and care already provided by primary health care teams, social agencies and above all, by families. Specially trained nurses work as specialists within the primary care teams in the area. Initial consultation is provided on the day of referral, often in the patient's home. Cost effective management approaches are employed throughout. The emphasis is on early detection of major mental illness and immediate intensive treatment using cognitive/behavioural treatment methods, and targeted low dose medication where necessary. The approach differs from the traditional hospital-based specialist services.