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Train GPs to identify mental health and bullying

16 November 2015

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Family doctors need formal training or information in order to support children and young people with mental health symptoms that relate to bullying, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) urged today.

More than a quarter of young people who were bullied at school say it impacted on their mental health and that they experienced issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, according to a new survey of 1,500 16-25 year olds.

Dr Liz England, clinical champion for mental health at the Royal College of GPs, said: “Bullying – and increasingly cyber-bullying – can lead to very serious mental health problems in our young patients, which are often not talked about and go unnoticed.

“GPs have a very difficult job in identifying mental health issues in young patients as they are often not the primary reason someone has for visiting their GP, and because of the stigma that unfortunately exists around discussing mental health problems,” she added.

The survey also found that a fifth of children being bullied avoid school or college as a way of coping, and as young adults 40% said it had had a negative effect on their ability to form personal relationships.

England continued: “It is important that our young patients know that GPs are highly trained to deal with physical and mental health problems – and to have sensitive, non-judgmental conversations with patients about any health issue.”