Module 11 - Psychological Therapies and Social Interventions

General Practitioners

General practitioners are trained and registered medical practitioners that provide primary health care services. About 30 % of people attending a general practitioner will have problems with their mental health such as anxiety and depression. However, this may not be the main reason that they are seeing their general practitioner. Nonetheless it places the general practitioner in an important position to assist the person in enhancing their mental health. In most instances, help for health- related problems is first sought via a general practitioner. This holds true for mental health problems. A general practitioner may possess skills or qualifications in treating certain kinds of mental illness, and an increasing number of general practitioners may work with a mental health nurse embedded within their practice. Where they do not possess particular skills or qualifications, the general practitioner can refer a patient to a specialist such as a private psychiatrist. This is an important point as it means that the specialist fee can be recouped under Medicare rebate. The general practitioner, through continuity of care, can fill an important role even while the patient remains under the care of a community mental health team. Close liaison between general practitioners and mental health services is crucial for successful community treatment. Well established lines of communication with the patient's psychiatrist or case manager are essential. Versions of the "shared care" model can provide practical support for general practitioners and facilitate their integration with mental health services in caring for patients. More information about general practitioners can be found on the college website here
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