Speciality: Mental Health
Location: Northern Ireland
A growing number of people with mental health issues are turning to primary care services looking for support, according to a new report.
The mental health charity Mind has compiled a survey of more than 1,000 GPs, revealing that 40 per cent of GP appointments now involve mental health, while two in three GPs say the proportion of patients needing help with mental health concerns has increased in the last 12 months.
However, current initial training for GPs in this field can be limited, with only one of the 21 compulsory modules for trainees specifically dedicated to mental health at present. Although trainees have the option to undertake a placement in mental health, most choose to do so in a hospital setting, rather than in community-based mental health services.
As such, four out of five GPs agreed there should be a wider range of options for mental health training, with Mind is backing calls to extend GP training from three to four years to allow young doctors to gain more experience in mental health, while also recommending a wider range of relevant mental health placement options.
Additionally, it was suggested that more needs to be done to expand the hiring of mental health therapists linked to GP surgeries to address shortfalls in the primary care workforce. Although plans are in place to introduce 3,000 therapists by 2020, but progress to date has been relatively slow at a time when demand is increasing rapidly.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "For most of us, our GP is our first port of call for accessing support for our mental health on the NHS, and the majority of people will only ever be seen in their GP practice. As demand increases, it is more important than ever that the NHS gets that support right."
Written by Angela Newbury
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