Recent findings have undermined the capabilities of many GPs in England as it has been found that just 46% have undertaken a training placement in mental health before qualifying.
Historically, mental health care has always taken a back seat, being overshadowed by physical health problems, and these statistics highlight how serious this issue has become.
Around one in three appointments booked with a General Practitioner are related to a person’s mental health.
To put this into perspective, the research means over half (54%) of GPs in England are not adequately trained to deal with patients living with mental health issues.
The same study also discovered additional problems within the Government-funded care system.
For trainee GPs, Psychiatry is the only training option available which is related to mental health disorders – a service which is provided almost exclusively in hospitals as a secondary care service.
In addition, 82% of Practice Nurses stated they did not feel sufficiently equipped to support patients living with mental health problems and, of this same group, 42% had never received any form of mental health training.
Whilst there is certainly metal health expertise available in England, the vast majority of these specialists work in a secondary care capacity, that is, care provided after a patient has been referred by a GP to separate specialist.
However, the majority (90%) of people with mental health issues are only treated at the primary stage – the stage at which sufficient training is lacking the most.
This data was collected from research conducted by Mind: a leading mental health charity in the UK.
Following on from these findings, the charity has now launched a petition to persuade the Government to provide extensive training in mental health to all GPs and Practice Nurses who are currently lacking in expertise.
One of the key people who have backed the findings is Kathryn Yates, Professional Lead for Primary and Community Care at the Royal College of Nursing.
Yates stated: “All health and social care staff should view mental health as an essential part of their job, from encouraging people to speak up and seek support or treatment, to supporting families and keeping people as well as possible at home”.
Currently, all GPs are required to complete Continued Professional Development (CPD) to continue practicing. However, they are not obligated to allocate any of these hours towards mental health related learning.
Serious action must be taken by both the Government and the NHS in order to rectify the issues insufficient training of GPs and Practice Nurses is causing.
If change is not made, people living with mental health illnesses will struggle to obtain the support they need, even after securing an appointment with their GP – something which can often involve a long waiting time.
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