RCGP pledges to make youth mental health a priority

Earlier this week the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) warnedthat there has been a rise in the number of young people with mental healthproblems since the recession – and that doctors are not being given the righttraining to identify and treat those problems. Read more here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/25734293

In response the RCGP has pledged to make youth mental healtha priority. Dr Maureen Baker, Chair of RCGP said: “The majority of GPs areskilled at supporting young people and families in their generalist role butfewer than half of GPs are given the opportunity to undertake a paediatric orpsychiatry training placement during their training.

“The vast majority of NHS care for children and youngpeople is delivered by general practice teams and so GPs have a crucial role toplay in improving the mental health of younger people. It is also importantthat children and young patients feel comfortable approaching their GP and thattheir GP is sufficiently prepared to discuss what are often sensitive issueswith confidence.

“Youth mental health is a clinical priority for theRCGP and we are embarking on a number of important projects to raise awarenessof youth mental health and simple things that GPs can do to give our youngerpatients a more positive experience.”

The RCGP is proposing that there should be increased focuson equipping GPs to deal with the common mental health problems faced byyounger people – this includes ‘improving mental resilience, managing anxiety,depression and self-harm, identifying suicide risk and in the early recognitionof psychosis’.

Dr Baker added: “The College is recommending that in future,as part of an enhanced four-year training programme, all GP trainees shouldreceive specialist-led training in both child health and mental health. TheRCGP is also working with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health,the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and Young Minds to develop ways that GPsand specialists might train together and so work more effectively when caringfor young people with mental health problems and has set up a series of meetingsto take this forward.

“Children and young peoples’ mental health and wellbeing isfundamental to their physical health. Statistics show that 75% of adults withmental health problems will have presented symptoms by the age of 18 – and 50%by the age of 15 – and so it makes sense that we do more to tackle mentalhealth problems as early as possible.”

Bill Walden-Jones, ChiefExecutive of Welsh mental health charity Hafal, said: “We recently launcheda groundbreaking new service for young people in Gwent which aims to tacklesome of the issues raised by the RCGP with a particular focus on delivering an early Intervention Service for young people experiencing psychosis orat risk of developing psychosis. The project aims to support 600 young people aged 14-25 across the Gwentarea over the next five years and has been awarded £754,000 funding from theBig Lottery’s Bright New Futures programme.

“We are pleased to be working with our LHB partners on a projectwhich goes to the heart of all our ambitions for mental health services:engaging effectively at an early stage so that young people can make a decisiverecovery.”