Basic mental health care or specialist mental health care?

Since Jan. 1, 2014, general practitioners have been more responsible for treating mental health complaints. The general practitioner does this together with a community mental health worker (POH-GGZ). If the general practitioner cannot treat you sufficiently and there is a suspicion of a mental disorder, he or she can refer you to a care provider within the Basic Mental Health Care (in 2013 still first-line mental health care) or the specialized mental health care (in 2013 still second-line mental health care).

Basic mental health care: complaint-oriented/Single
You may be referred by your primary care physician to primary mental health care if you have a mental disorder or if the primary care physician suspects it.

Complaint-oriented or short-term psychotherapy focuses on the treatment of one or a number of symptoms and specific complaints. Here the client’s personality or identity experience or personality history is less addressed. The goal is to treat the symptoms a person is currently experiencing. The duration is between a few to about 13 calls.

Specialist mental health care: Person-centered/Complex

You may be referred to Specialist Mental Health Services if you suffer from severe and/or complex psychological or psychiatric symptoms. This is also called 2nd-line care.
In specialty care, in addition to the immediately present complaints, the complex issues underlying the complaints are more central. Here the client’s personal history is considered, however, and complaints are viewed in the context of the client’s personality. Identity and self-perception are more central here. Additionally, in specialty care, much emphasis will be placed on the process a person is going through, or the process of therapy. The goal is to bring about a more structural change in personal functioning and self-perception through this process.


No (suspected) DSM disorder, DSM disorders of low severity, low risk, low complexity, course does not yet meet guideline criteria)
Stable chronic problems

Basic mental health care

Suspected DSM disorder in which:
– severity moderate or high
– and/or risk moderate
– and/or complexity moderate
– and/or course meets guideline criteria

Specialist mental health care

Suspected DSM disorder in which:

  • high risk
  • and/or high complexity


For more info on Basic mental health care or specialized mental health care : see also