This paper provides an introduction to this special edition on international mental health perspectives. The importance of an international perspective is discussed and key questions are raised to provide the reader with a frame of reference for examining the mental health systems in the countries presented. An orientation to some of the current mental health issues in Europe, the United States, and developing countries is given as point of comparison for the reader. Questions discussed relate to the status of institutional care, outpatient services, the composition of mental health staff, the role of community interventions and prevention, and the availability and accessibility of mental health services.

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