Covering the countryside from a mental health point of view and in an efficient way needs a broad network of local services. Primary Health Care in Greece (with its Health Centers and Rural Doctors' offices) offers such a basis with the collaboration of which an innovative service - Mental Health Mobile Unit- managed to do preventive work in Psychiatry.
The availability of such an outgoing service and its easy accessability
brought the local population in close contact with mental health team and statistics showed that diagnostically more than half of the cases were treatable psychosocial problems (rather than established illnesses) in their early stages, and thus prevention of a further ominous development could be achieved. Prejudices about mental illness were put aside through information and sensitisation of the public, the schools and authorities. This had an encouraging result: 61% of the referrals were made either as self-referrals or after the service of a former patient, and only the rest by medical and social services.
Younger age groups were examined during the second decade of the Mobile Unit's work by the inclusion of visiting psychologists at schools and thus a more primary preventive approach could be established. The psychotics of the Unit's catchment area were registered and by home visits and follow-ups (average visits per psychotic per year 3.48) prevention of relapses lowered re-admissions to city hospitals down to only 3.7%.
Psychiatric Department AHEPA General Hospital,
University of Thessaloniki