New standards in mental health training

Morgan Liotta

25/10/2019 12:52:25 PM

The GPMHSC's standards represent a ‘renewed commitment’ to continually improve Australia’s mental health system.

GPMHSC mental health training standards
The GPMHSC mental health training standards were officially launched at GP19 in Adelaide.

The Mental health training standards 2020–22 incorporate the guide for GPs and training providers, developed by the RACGP’s General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration (GPMHSC) through partnership with GPs, mental health professionals, patients and carers.
The new standards, officially launched today at GP19 in Adelaide, deliver knowledge to training providers regarding the specific requirements of accredited mental health training and continuing professional development (CPD) in mental health.
For GPs, the standards have been restructured to ensure continued clarity on their eligibility for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item numbers in the provision of primary mental health care, and detail specific training requirements to access MBS item numbers under the Better Access initiative.
The aim of both guides will help increase usability and ensure a logical workflow, so GPs can access required information on mental health training and education.
The GPMHSC recommends CPD in mental health to ensure GPs’ skills and knowledge are up to date and broad-ranging.
‘There is greater awareness in the community about mental health, and the stigma about talking to a doctor and getting help is gradually diminishing,’ GPMHSC Chair Associate Professor Morton Rawlin said.
‘The RACGP’s recent 2019 General Practice: Health of the Nation report found that 65% of surveyed GPs identified mental health is the most common issue they manage.’
Key changes to the standards include:

  • revision of the GP mental health training framework
  • refinement on the specific accreditation requirements of e-learning programs
  • inclusion of the Advanced Mental Health Skills Acknowledgement Position Statement
  • reiteration on the mandatory requirement of consumer and carer representatives in each stage of the planning, development, delivery and evaluation of accredited activities.
Associate Professor Rawlin believes GPs have a ‘special role to play’ in helping people address mental health concerns.
‘GPs need to be able to detect and treat people with mental health problems, and that includes patients at risk of suicide,’ he said.
‘An estimated 45% of Australians aged 16–85 will be affected by a mental illness at some point in their lifetime and, for most of them, GPs are their first point of contact.
‘It’s an incredibly complex task, particularly since every person who walks through their door is different. A GP needs to take account of acute physical and mental health issues as well as their personal circumstances and life history.’
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