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Vast majority of GPs concerned about child mental health services

A vast majority of GPs are concerned about the state of child mental health treatment in the NHS, a poll has shown.

The survey of 302 GPs in England found that 86% of GPs feel that young people may come to harm while waiting for specialist treatment, with a mental health charity warning GPs were left picking up the pieces.

Close to nine in ten (85%) of GPs think that health and social care services for children are inadequate, and over half (56%) of GPs said they want to see a total overhaul of mental health services, the survey by mental health charity stem4 found.

It also showed that:

  • Over half of respondents (54%) called for more training on young people’s mental health for GPs;
  • over three quarters (78%) of GPs are seeing an increased number of patients with mental health problems compared to five years ago;
  • almost every GP (97%) has seen a patient aged 11-18 suffering from depression in the last five years, with the same proportion seeing a patient who was self-harming;
  • 61% said they have seen an increase in young people self-harming in the last five years but half of GPs said they had not received enough training on treating self-harming patients;
  • nine in ten (89%) have seen a patient with eating disorders and almost two thirds (63%) has seen a young person with an addition problem.

Dr Nihara Krause, consultant clinical psychologist and founder of stem4, said: ‘Young people’s mental health services are at crisis point. GPs are having to cope with the consequences of our failure to focus on prevention, and a lack of access to specialist services.‘

Dr Faraz Mughal, RCGP clinical fellow for youth mental health, said: ‘This report brings home how important it is that family doctors receive appropriate specialist-led training in mental health, that there is more investment in mental health services right across the NHS, and that there is greater integration across health, social care, education and justice services, so that we can deliver the care and support our young patients with mental health problems need and deserve.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • As GP's we should have more training to be able to deal with these problems. What is needed is someone to take ultimate charge of the issue and ensure the services work. At the moment there seems to me to be a vacuum of responsibility. The schools say it is health, health says it is CAMHS and CAHMS say it is social services. The unfortunate child languishes untreated whilst the agencies dither. Prevention by education early on in schools and building pastoral care so children have some inkling to know where to access help. Mental health issues are still so stigmatised by adults it is no wonder children suffer!

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  • A very valid area of concern which can only be exacerbated by another current re-anaysis of an SSRI clinical trial. This trial has been reported as designed for use as a marketing platform based on "safety and efficacy".
    Following the conclusions drawn from the re-evaluated 329 study which may be summarised as neither safe nor effective, further published allegations of scientific misconduct are evidenced.
    This time in relation to an earlier citalopram paediatric depression trial.
    The current re-assessment is by by Jureidini JN. Amsterdam J et al. Int. J. Risk and Safety in Medicine. 28. No.1. p33-43. 16/03/2016.

    Citalopram CIT-MD-18 Pediatric Depression Trial.
    "Deconstruction of Medical Ghostwriting, Data Mis-classification and Academic Malfeasance".
    "No significant difference between Citalopram and Placebo" --- with "possible effects on patient safety".

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  • I'm concerned about the over-nationalisation of behavioural problems.

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  • The Association of Child Psychotherapists is the body which provides mandatory training for working in the NHS. They have to complete at the very least four years in training There are currently 142 trainees. After training in the NHS there is no obligation to practice in the NHS. How are GPs supposed to deal with the sunami of children experiencing mental health issues without proper training or enough practitioners to refer to - not only therapists of course. Many of the youngsters suffer from economic deprivation - what can GPs do about that...There are umpteen research projects going on - the money spent on most of these should be providing care now..research graduates studying psychotherapy/analysis at some universities are paying £16,000 for their courses - those who can afford it, or their parents with contacts, are living on another planet compared to the majority of those who need help...it's a cockeyed system which needs commonsense to change the focus onto the children.

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  • Today I saw a girl aged 17 years and 8 months. She works a a cleaner in a pub. She told me she and suffered with bullying off and on since she was 11 years old. She has recently ended an abusively relationship with her boyfriend. In recent months she has become extremely low in mood and she has been self harming.
    I would love to get some counselling or psychological therapy to help her, but she is not at college and CAHMs will not touch such cases. All I can do is say "sorry, we have to wait until your are 18 before we can get you some help."
    I am reluctant to prescribe an SSRI because of the increased risk of suicide.
    I am sure I am not the only GP who feels angry and frustrated by the lack of help for teenagers like this.

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  • Re GP Partner,7-43pm.
    This vulnerable girl has one blessing at least.
    That is your commendable reluctance to prescribe an SSRI due to the risk of metabolic variant vulnerability leading to akathisia, and hence risk not only of suicide, but of misdiagnosis of psychotic depression.

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  • SSRI are the big scam anyway. They are no better than placebo!

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