GP Mental Health Support Improved: two men standing inside a room

GP Mental Health Support Improved

GP Mental Health Support will be improved as new mental health experts will be present at GP surgeries to support people as the need for mental health support skyrockets.

Local NHS trust mental health experts will now offer people with severe mental health problems such as bipolar, psychosis or eating disorders, an option for support without needing a GP appointment. This could include a consultation, treatment, peer support, or a referral to hospital teams.

[Following the death of my husband], It’s made me a different person. My motto is now, never be afraid to reach out for help and talk to somebody, and tell them how you feel, because there is help out there.

Theresa Adams

The new signposting service gives people appointments with the mental experts which can be up to three times longer than a standard GP appointment, which offers more time for a fuller needs assessment.

The NHS funding will provide for two mental health practitioners for each GP practice group, meaning up to 2,500 mental health experts will be providing additional support.

Introduction of the new roles will see primary care and mental health trusts working together to offer one single service to patients, while family doctors time will be freed up to focus on routine care.

Almost 500 mental health practitioners including community psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health occupational therapists are already working in GP surgeries across England.

I am delighted to see family doctors working alongside their local mental health trust and ensuring that patients are offered far more joined-up care from a single service.

Providing specialist mental health support at local family doctors’ surgeries is another key milestone in the journey to putting mental health on an equal footing with physical health, as the NHS works alongside Government to introduce new access standards for mental health patients

Claire Murdoch, NHS National Mental Health Director

Demand for NHS mental health services has significantly increased following the Covid-19 pandemic – and the NHS is treating more children and young people than ever before, with over a fifth more children treated this year compared to before the NHS Long Term Plan.

The number of adults referred to community mental health services has also increased by nearly one fifth since the start of the pandemic.

As a GP, I have seen first-hand the significant impact of the pandemic on the nation’s mental health, with far more people coming forward for support.

So, it is fantastic that up to 2,500 more mental health practitioners will be available to work with us, as part of joined-up teams in primary care, to offer patients faster access to specialist mental health support through their local General Practice team.

If you are someone with bipolar disorder, an eating disorder or psychosis and feel you need more support it’s important you know you are not alone and that it is okay to get help.

Dr Nikki Kanani, GP and Medical Director for Primary Care at NHS England

Mental health services are being backed by an additional £2.3 billion every year in additional funding until 2023/24 as part of the NHS Long Term Plan’s commitment to improving community mental health services.

The new roles are part of the NHS’s ambition to give 370,000 adults and older adults with severe mental illnesses greater choice and mental health support in the community, reducing the likelihood that they will need to be admitted to mental health inpatient settings.

Giving people convenient care for mental ill-health is a lifeline. NHS patients and their families know that better access to NHS mental health support in their community, including through their local GP, not only goes with the grain of how people like to seek help, but also helps with common conditions before they escalate into something even more serious or something that can result in a stay in hospital.

Thousands more mental health experts working as part of family doctor teams is a major boost for the NHS’ drive to integrate physical and mental health care and will not only mean more people get better care but crucially will help hard-working GP teams to provide the best possible care for their patients

Amanda Pritchard, NHS Chief Executive

The introduction of mental health experts in GP surgeries has already seen success across the country, including in Teesside where two mental health nurses saw more than 1,600 patients over six months in GP surgeries, with more than seventy percent saying they would recommend the service.