The aim of this chapter is to describe the processes of planning and providing mental health services for a defined community. First, we shall define the key terms relevant to this chapter to clarify the conceptual basis and the direction of our approach. Second, we shall describe in detail the sequential steps necessary to the planning of mental health services for a defined population. This process is considered as cyclical, rather than linear, beginning with establishing the service principles, moving to setting the boundary conditions, assessing population needs and the current service provision, formulating a strategic plan for a local system of services, implementing the service components at the local level, and ending with reviewing the service and monitoring the adequacy of provision. Finally, in the concluding section we shall deal with how faulty planning procedures, which fail to see service components within the wider system of care, can lead to distorted and unbalanced services.

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