I deliver a basic mental health awareness course and have been shocked recently to find a low level of understanding about mental health amongst trainee GPs who attend. Some may have had 8 weeks working on an acute ward but a lot have taken other options and seem to have had no training in this area whatsoever.

Mental health training should be a compulsory part of their training, as these issues will inevitably be involved in much of their work with patients.

Why is this idea important?

1 in 4 of us experience mental health problems every year. For many people experiencing problems the first person they turn to for help will be their GP. GPs also have an essential role in spotting the first signs of mental health problems developing in their patients and, through this early intervention, ensuring that these problems do not become more severe. They also have a role in breaking down the stigma and descrimination that surrounds the subject of mental health.

Figures compiled by the Kings Fund in 2008 point to the totalservice costs of mental health problems in 2007 coming to £22.5 billion, and in terms of lost employment at approx £26.1 billion. The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health puts the cost of reduced productivity whilst in work due to mental ill health at £15 billion per year. It therefore also makes a great deal of economic sense to address this issue at a grassroots level

So, reduce distress whilst saving the nation money at the same time. A double whammy!

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