Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 131-139

First online:

The Barents project in psychiatry: a systematic comparative mental health services study between Northern Norway and Archangelsk County

  • Grigory RezvyyAffiliated withNordland Hospital Email author 
  • , Terje ØiesvoldAffiliated withNordland HospitalUniversity of Tromsø
  • , Alexander ParniakovAffiliated withNorthern State Medical University
  • , Oleg PonomarevAffiliated withArchangelsk County Mental Hospital
  • , Olga LazurkoAffiliated withArchangelsk County Psychiatric Dispensary
  • , Reidun OlstadAffiliated withUniversity Hospital in Northern Norway, University of Tromsø

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There is virtually no readily accessible systematically recorded evidence on how the organization of mental health services in Europe’s largest country, Russia, may differ from other national systems. This study systematically compares the mental health services in Archangelsk County and Northern Norway using instruments developed for trans-cultural use.


The European Service Mapping Schedule (ESMS) and The International Classification of Mental Health Care (ICMHC) were used to describe: (i) resources, organisation and utilisation of the services; (ii) their decentralisation and differentiation; (iii) some interventions delivered by the mental health service units (n = 132) in both regions.


The Norwegian services are more decentralised and differentiated, while the Russian services are largely hospital-based. The GPs are of considerable importance to the Norwegian services, functioning as gatekeepers-both centrally and peripherally. In contrast, the GP model is still poorly established in Archangelsk County. There are more units for long term stay in the Russian services than in Norway. General health care and taking over daily living activities are more organised in Archangelsk County, while psychopharmacological treatment and psychosocial interventions are more developed in Norway.


The study has revealed several differences in resources, organisation and utilisation of the mental health services between the two compared areas. The very large variations indicate that underlying local patterns of service delivering must be further investigated and taken into account in the planning of the services development.


psychiatry mental health services cross-cultural