High levels of common mental health problems exist within areas of deprivation across the UK. Concurrently, GPs report having to deal with an upsurge in cases in which the underlying causes of patient distress are social and structural, as well as linked to comorbid physical health problems. This can be challenging for GPs who have limited time to address the inherent complexity of these problems. Supporting GPs to respond effectively to this complex and diverse situation and to provide optimal care for those affected therefore requires insight which draws on both the experiences of health professionals and the lived experiences and needs and priorities of people from low-income communities.
Using findings from the DeStress project we are working with Health Education England (HEE) to develop an educational package that will assist GPs and clinicians working in primary care to reshape consultation practice so that it more effectively supports mental health care in areas of deprivation. This package will look beyond issues of basic interaction and empathy to examine how GPs and patients can work more effectively together to i) understand and acknowledge causes of distress, ii) convey medication uncertainties and possible harms; iii) provide tailored support that addresses the difficulties faced by patients, including social isolation and problems accessing talking therapies. Training will focus on using the existing consultation time differently rather than increasing consultation time.
The educational package will include an online fact sheet and an online training session. We are also in discussion with the Royal College of GPs (RCGP) to get these materials accredited, and to work with them to develop a short ‘taster’ session for their e-learning platform, on the issues addressed by the training.