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18.11.2019 | original article | Ausgabe 2/2020

neuropsychiatrie 2/2020

Reaching families where a parent has a mental disorder: Using big data to plan early interventions

neuropsychiatrie > Ausgabe 2/2020
Ingrid Zechmeister-Koss, Heinz Tüchler, Melinda Goodyear, Ingunn Olea Lund, Jean Lillian Paul
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Children who grow up with a parent who has a mental health problem (25%) are at increased risk of developing (health) problems themselves. One approach to reach those children for early intervention supports is through their parents seeking treatment within the adult mental healthcare system. We aimed to gain information on the users of adult mental health services in Tyrol, Austria in order to understand more about the identification of these families to provide support.


We descriptively analysed administrative claims data from the Tyrolean health insurance. Uptake of mental health services (hospital inpatient and day-care services, rehabilitation, outpatient psychiatrist and psychotherapy services), prescription medication and sick leave in persons aged 19–64 in 2017 were analysed.


The vast majority (82%) of an overall number of 49,494 patients were prescribed medication for their mental health issues. Half of them only received medication as their form of treatment. A quarter had contacted an outpatient psychiatrist and 13% received psychotherapy. Five percent were treated in psychiatric inpatient or day-care. The median length of hospital stay was 15 days. More women than men used mental health benefits.


Most parents may be reached via the general practitioner (via drug prescriptions) and low numbers were found accessing services in a psychiatric hospital. The latter may, however, have higher needs for support given their greater acuity of illness. How to get into contact with their children requires thoughtful and sensitive preparation, given the stigmatisation of accessing support for mental health issues. Administrative data are a useful source for planning such early intervention strategies.

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