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GP practices lack mental health training

by Léa Legraien
4 October 2017

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Sean Duggan has called mental health workforce within GP practices to get better training to meet patient’s needs.

The chief executive of the Mental Health Network made those comments following the release of a report, the future of the mental health workforce about mental health services.

The report was released in September 2017 by the Centre for Mental Health on behalf of the Mental Health Network.

It outlines key findings from the feedback of people using and working in mental health services and offers a range of recommendations for the development of a sustainable mental health care workforce.

Sarah Hughes, chief executive at the Centre for Mental Health, said: ‘Mental health care relies on people with the right skills, capabilities and knowledge to support others, often at times of crisis or vulnerability.

‘It is all about people helping people, and having the right workforce is crucial for its effectiveness.

‘The future mental health workforce will need to be skilled in coproducing services with those who use them; in educating and supporting GPs, teachers and hospital staff; and in engaging with communities.

General practices play an important role in supporting patients with mental health problems. But with only 46% of GPs having completed mental health training placements, the workforce can’t fully help patients before they reach the breaking point.

With one in three notes issued for mental health problems, the report emphasizes that GPs should be provided with significant mental health training to respond to people’s mental health needs.

Mental health improvement is one of the targets set up by the General Practice Forward View (GPFV). Until now, the GPFV has already placed 400 new mental health therapists in GP surgeries, out of the 800 promised by March 2018, which will reach a total of 3,000 by 2020.

Some of the participants consulted for the report pointed the benefits of GP surgeries having psychiatric nurses or clinical psychologists among others.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘We hope that the recommendations gain traction across the system so that the mental health workforce is seen as a whole, maximising the contribution of existing roles and developing new roles where the evidence suggests these are required. 

The report can be found here.