The state of psychiatry in BelgiumThe state of psychiatry in Belgium
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Collaborative Antwerp Psychiatric Research Institute (CAPRI)
International review of psychiatry. - Abingdon
24(2012):4, p. 286-294
University of Antwerp
Belgium, at the crossroads of different cultures, developed complex governmental structures hindering the development of comprehensive mental health policies. A total of 10.2% of the gross domestic product is spent on healthcare but only 6.1% of this total expenditure goes to mental health. Although mental healthcare is largely accessible and offers high levels of quality, it is questionable whether this can be maintained, given the economic climate. The collection of epidemiological data is problematic due to the different ways registration takes place within different care systems and the complexity of the state structure and its consecutive constitutional reforms. Coming from a largely hospital-driven psychiatric care, mental healthcare reforms of past decades have created more community-based care and new care pathways, still an on-going process. Psychiatry as a profession is currently challenged. Teaching mental health issues remains extremely limited within medical schools, resources for research are disproportionally limited, and working conditions less favourable, all this compared with other specialisms. Hence few graduates choose a career in psychiatry. Changing the public perception of what psychiatry is about, redefining the identity of psychiatrists as medical specialists, and their work have become important challenges for the next future.