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GP mental health consultations continuing to rise


Amanda Lyons


5/12/2018 3:23:09 PM

The latest Mental health services in Australia report highlights the most common mental health problems seen in general practice.

The AIHW report shows GP consults for mental health issues continue to rise, as well as revealing the most common treatments, referrals and patient demographics.
The AIHW report shows GP consults for mental health issues continue to rise, as well as revealing the most common treatments, referrals and patient demographics.

Four million Australians are estimated to have experienced a common mental disorder in 2015.
 
Mental health has also become the single most common reason patients book an appointment with a GP, and the health issue that causes GPs the most concern for the future.
 
GPs’ concern has been further validated by the latest version of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) web report, Mental health services in Australia, which provides a national picture of the health and welfare service system’s response to the needs of Australians with mental health issues.
 
The report features a chapter on general practice, which shows the proportion of GP–patient encounters focused on mental health concerns have increased over recent years, from 10.8% in 2007–08 to 12.4% in 2015–16.
 
Depression accounts for a third (32.1%) of these encounters and is the most commonly managed mental health problem during GP encounters. Alcohol abuse and affective psychosis were the two least common.
 
The prescription or recommendation of medication was the most common management method for issues of mental health within general practice, at 61.6 per 100 mental health problems managed. Antidepressants were most often prescribed or recommended.
 
Meanwhile, referrals were made by GPs at a rate of 18.8 per 100 mental health-related problems, with more than half of these made to psychologists. The least common referrals made, sitting at below one recommendation per 100, were for patient support groups.
 
People aged 65 years and older had the highest rate of GP encounters for mental health concerns of all age groups. Non-Indigenous Australians had a higher rate of mental health-related encounters than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, while people living in inner-regional areas had the highest rate, and people living in remote and very remote areas had the lowest.



AIHW Australian Institute of Health and Welfare mental health mental health funding





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