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Enhanced GP training plans on youth mental health

RCGP makes youth mental health a clinical priority

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

GPs should be better equipped to deal with mental health problems in young people.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has today announced its intention to make youth mental health a clinical priority.

Commenting, Dr Maureen Baker, RCGP chair, said: “The majority of GPs are skilled at supporting young people and families in their generalist role but fewer than half of GPs are given the opportunity to undertake a paediatric or psychiatry training placement during their training.”

Dr Baker notes that, despite this lack of training opportunity, the vast majority of NHS care for children and young people is delivered by general practice teams.

“GPs have a crucial role to play in improving the mental health of younger people,” she said, adding: “The RCGP is proposing that there should be increased focus on equipping GPs to deal with the common mental health problems faced by younger people – this includes improving mental resilience, managing anxiety, depression and self-harm, identifying suicide risk and in the early recognition of psychosis.”

The College is therefore recommending an enhanced four-year training programme, and that all GP trainees should receive specialist-led training in both child health and mental health.

The RCGP is also working with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Young Minds to develop ways that GPs and specialists might train together in order to work more effectively when caring for young people with mental health problems. A series of meetings have been set up to take this forward.

Dr Baker noted that statistics reveal that 75% of adults with mental health problems will have presented symptoms by the age of 18 – and 50% by the age of 15.

“So it makes sense that we do more to tackle mental health problems as early as possible.”

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