Inadequacies in mental health care highlighted by GPS and charity

  • A report by the mental health charity Gofal and the Royal College of GPs has revealed problems faced by patients and the primary care workforce. /images/mentalhealth.jpg

    Mental health charity Gofal has joined forces with GPs to call for a "sustained focus" on improving mental healthcare in the primary sector in Wales, reports Wales Online.

    In two reports published by each organisation flaws are highlighted in access to psychological therapies for mental health patients in Wales.

    In the report by Gofal, it is claimed that the range of treatments, information and support available to patients needs to be improved.

    Prescription medication remains the dominant treatment option for patients according to the report, with 72.3% of respondents being offered it by their GP instead of "talking therapies". Despite 50% of patients stating their GP was "extremely" or "very" understanding and empathetic to their illness, 25% described their attitude as "slightly" or "not at all" understanding.

    The report by the Wales Mental Health in Primary Care, shows the difficulties GPs and other healthcare professionals are facing.

    The majority of GPs surveyed said workload pressures, increased complexity and other practice-related issues have had a detrimental impact on their own wellbeing. 72.7% of healthcare workers who responded said mental health is "difficult" or "very difficult" to manage at primary care level.

    Ewan Hilton, executive director of Gofal, said despite recent improvements in treatment options and waiting times, it was "disappointing" that more progress hadn't been made since the implementation of part one of the Mental Health (Wales) Measure two-and-a-half years ago.

    He said: "It is crucial that Welsh Government, local health boards and local authorities maintain a sharp focus on primary mental health services and deliver further improvements to meet people's needs and enhance outcomes. And we support the call to improve support for GPs and other primary care staff. It is essential that the primary care workforce is equipped with the right information, skills and referral routes to intervene early and deliver the best possible patient care."

    A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We welcome these reports and the ongoing commitment of WaMHinPC to promoting mental health in primary care and their support for the Mental Health (Wales) Measure 2010. The report will help us inform the review of the Measure currently underway. Providing appropriate interventions in primary care is essential and it is vital there is an adequate balance between the need to provide holistic assessments and offer services."

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