THE DELIVERY OF
MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES *
Darrel A. Regier
Carl A. Taube
MENTAL HEALTH services in the United States are provided by a diverse group of professional personnel and facilities with little coordination or centralized governmental planning. As a result, a combination of public and private, general medical and specialty mental health, multispecialty group and solo practice settings constitute what has previously been described as the "de facto U.S. mental
health services system." 24 Major changes in this service delivery system have been the result of multiple economic forces, socio‐ cultural pressures, and therapeutic innovations, as well as governmental policy decisions.
This chapter will describe the principal characteristics of the current mental health services system and the evolutionary trends that have emerged over the past twenty‐ five years. By starting with a brief review of epidemiological data on the prevalence of mental disorders, it is possible to provide some perspective on the scope of the mental health problems that the service system is designed to address. The major sites for mental health service delivery will be identified, as will the trends that have emerged in the service delivery system since 1955. Finally, the characteristics and distribution of professional personnel involved in providing specialty mental health services will be briefly discussed.____________________