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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.’


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