Subsidized training of general practitioners to improve access to mental health

Subsidized training of general practitioners to improve access to mental health

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed a new grant for general practitioners to undertake training focused on Targeted Psychological Strategies (FPS ST).

RACGP President Dr Karen Price said GPs with specialized mental health skills were needed more than ever.

“The pandemic is not only having a devastating impact on physical health, it is wreaking havoc on mental health,” she said.

“General practitioners are seeing more and more patients coming to us who feel anxious, stressed and in need of help. Not many people know that general practitioners provide the overwhelming majority of mental health care in Australia. We are often the first port of call for patients with concerns.

“Even before the pandemic, mental health was a major concern in Australia. It has been ranked as the most common presentation of general practitioners in the RACGP’s annual survey of the nation’s health for consecutive years.

The General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) offers general practitioners a grant of $ 600 after completing training focused on targeted psychological strategies. Applications to apply for the grant are open on September 1, 2021. More information is available on the GPMHSC website.

RACGP offers an online targeted psychological strategy skills training course. Those who complete the training become Medicare-registered Targeted Psychological Service Providers and may provide Targeted Psychological Strategies (SPF) and counseling derived from cognitive behavioral therapy to patients.

The RACGP encourages rural and remote general practitioners to seize this opportunity. “This is particularly difficult for people in rural and remote communities, as they often do not have access to local mental health services, such as psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists,” said the rural president of RACGP, Dr. Michael Clements.

“As a rural GP, I know there is a huge demand for mental health services from the local GP. “

Rural patients tend to know their GP for a long time and trust them as a confidant. Therefore, when it comes to their mental health, they often want to see them for help, Clements said.

“And general practitioners are uniquely positioned to provide this help due to the nature of general practice: we provide holistic and ongoing patient care, we have insight into the lives of our patients and can often be the first to recognize that something is wrong. and start this conversation.

The rural president of RACGP, who completed FPS training after the floods that hit his hometown of Townsville, encouraged general practitioners across the country to take up the training opportunity.

“After my community was affected by the flooding, I saw my role suddenly change from generalist to flood counselor. I recognized that my patients needed more specialized mental health support, so I took the training.

Clements urged GPs across Australia, including major cities and remote communities, to “seize this opportunity.”

A 2018 Senate report detailed the gap in mental health services in rural and remote areas of Australia – in regional areas, the per capita number of psychiatrists, mental health nurses and psychologists in 2015 was, respectively, 36%, 78% and 57% of those in large cities. The situation was even worse in remote areas.

Image Credit: © stock.adobe.com / au / fizkes

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