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GPs are not meeting the needs of many patients with mental illness, new research finds.

The study found more than one in four patients who consulted GPs had mental health problems but only 40 per cent were adequately treated.

Only 28 per cent of patients were receiving optimum treatment for their problem, according to the research, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (October).

Anxiety disorders and depression were by far the most common problems identified by the researchers during structured interviews with 330 patients aged 16 to 75 consulting with GPs in Cheshire.

Around 14 per cent of patients with anxiety disorders and 10 per cent with depression were not being managed appropriately.

Lead researcher Dr Jed Boardman, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, concluded more training and better links with secondary care were needed.

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