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Abstract

This article summarises the recent development of Swiss mental health policies and services. The last three decades have been characterised by a strong emphasis on the socio psychiatric approach Bachmann, 1995; Ciompi, 1997, 1994,1987a, 1987b). The establishment of a decentralised, patient and community focused mental health care network, integrating different therapeutic methods under a uniform administration is the base concept of the emerging movement (Ernst, 1998;Bachmann, 1995,Ciompi, 1994, 1987b). Achievements and problems of mental health care provision are outlined. A more proactive role for mental health care professionals in policy is proposed to contribute to the solution of present injustices. The situation in Switzerland can, however, be considered to correspond to that in a range of other countries. Since the Swiss mental health care system has been strongly influenced by international developments it might be seen to "portray" Europe on a small scale (Ciompi, 1994; 1987b). Not only in Europe but in all industrialised countries experts presently perceive difficulties in mental health care delivery in an astonishingly similar way (Ernst, 1998). Globally the similarity of mental health needs appears to be much greater than is the case for physical health. The delivery of mental health care might thus be considered as a world-wide issue requiring an international response (Ernst, 1998).

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