NICE Guidelines for Mental Health: What GPs Should Know
The world is waking up to the issue of mental health. As a serious cause for concern for people of all ages, genders backgrounds and locations, mental health is under the spotlight. Individual cases are attracting a lot of attention, often as a result of failures by healthcare professionals to intervene and provide appropriate treatment to patients.
The NICE Guidelines for mental health have made some clear recommendations to give mental health patients the recognition and support they deserve.
Highlighting mental health care in the media
News stories around mental health cases are becoming more and more common. While mental health has always been a serious issue, the stigma that existed in the past prevented it from being discussed as widely as it needed to be.
Cases like that of student Natasha Abrahart, who tragically killed herself while being prescribed anti-depressants, have called into question why NICE guidelines around mental health weren’t followed and have highlighted the importance of better care by GPs and health workers.
NICE Guidelines around mental health conditions state that GPs should follow up on with patients a week after being prescribed anti-depressants, especially if they are under 30 or a suicide risk. They should have regular check-ups with patients, follow up on missed appointments and develop care pathways to provide patients with the support they need.
In Natasha’s case, unfortunately, her case was not followed up within the recommended time-frame, raising questions of whether or not her death could have been prevented.
What GPs can do to help patients
Last year, mental health charity MIND called for better training for GPs who deal with mental health patients, given that they now make up around 40% of appointments. GPs are seen as having a role to play in the UK mental health crisis, although this can be difficult to do when training is limited – especially amongst trainee doctors.
There are calls on the NHS to provide better support to GPs to help them handle mental health patients. Underfunded and understaffed practices are experiencing increasing workloads and are calling on further training to help them be better prepared in dealing with mental health cases.
To help patients, GPs and practice workers can help make sure that NICE guidelines are followed. Follow ups with patients suffering from depression and other conditions are important, especially when prescriptions are coming to an end. Training within practices can also be a benefit, helping staff to feel more aware of mental health issues and how they affect patients. This could also help to identify key signs and symptoms when patients are attending appointments for other conditions and symptoms, helping to detect problems and provide support at an earlier stage.
With better training and resources, improvements can be made in the care of mental health patients to provide them with the help they need.
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