Multisectoral mental health networks in Belgium: An example of successful mental health reform through service delivery redesign (2018)
Belgium has opted for a nationwide reform of the mental health sector in response to the need for improved people-centred approaches for people with mental health conditions, an efficiency imperative. The reform aimed to strengthen the community-based supply of care and to reduce the number of psychiatric hospital beds; it improved care integration, social rehabilitation and service users’ recovery, including users’ and carers’ quality of life. Central to the reform are multisectoral mental health care networks offering outreach services, prevention, in-and outpatient mental health services, primary care, day care, and vocational, housing and social care services.
The nationwide reform is in line with WHO’s Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2020, calling for a shift from institutional care to community services. The reform contributed to improving the long-term health of patients and reducing hospital stays. It also significantly reduced the number of psychiatric hospital beds in favour of outreach services to people with mental health conditions.