In 2000 Dutch television broadcasted a documentary, filmed by Hans Polak, about people who neglect themselves and their social environment. The film shows public mental health workers visiting people who fall outside of the regular healthcare system. These people live on the frayed fringes of society, such as a man from a wealthy family who lives in a faeces-stained apartment, an old organ-grinder sharing living and working space with a heroin prostitute, a mentally disordered woman who keeps hundreds of mice as pets, an old and lonely opera singer who rarely leaves home, and an addicted couple who have lost parental rights. This opening chapter follows up on the case of the (formerly) addicted couple – names have been omitted to ensure privacy; the couple has given written permission to publish their story. Our study showed that in the period 2000 – 2006 no fewer than 81 social workers or nurses, spread over about 25 health and social services, have been involved in the case.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
M.W. Hengeveld (Michiel) , C.L. Mulder (Niels)
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Wierdsma, A. (2008, October 16). Follow-up after Involuntary Mental Healthcare: Who Cares? Emergency Compulsory Admission and Continuity of Care in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Retrieved from