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3 10 Care of People with Mental Health Problems


  • You should consider the mental health of a patient in every primary care consultation. 90% of people with mental health problems across the lifespan are managed in primary care
  • Mental health problems contribute to disability, unemployment and social exclusion
  • Depression and anxiety are common in people with long-term physical conditions, and increase the morbidity and mortality from these conditions
  • People with severe mental health problems have an increased risk of morbidity and mortality owing to cardiovascular disease and diabetes; as a general practitioner (GP) you have a significant role in prevention, detection and management of this physical co-morbidity
  • People with unexplained physical symptoms may have underlying psychological distress, but be aware of the dangers of medicalising distress. Repeated investigation is costly in terms of patient suffering and healthcare costs
  • Good communication skills, particularly listening skills, empathy, understanding and compassion, are key in managing people with mental health problems
  • An exploration of physical, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual issues should be integrated into both the consultation and the management of illness; cultural issues can impact on how mental health issues present and the acceptability of diagnosis
  • Offering alternative approaches and working with the third sector (voluntary and community sectors) are important

Knowledge and skills guide

This section contains the learning outcomes for the 'Care of People with Mental Health Problems' curriculum module.

These are grouped into 12 core areas of competence concerned with the tasks you will undertake as a general practitioner when delivering care to people in your community.

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Case discussion

This section contains a scenario and questions for reflection which help to illustrate the learning points in this module.

Bushra is 51 years old and rarely consults the practice. She works as a teaching assistant. Her husband, Imran, is 56, has diabetes and has just been made redundant from his job in a national IT company. Bushra attends your surgery complaining that she can’t settle, she feels ‘uptight ‘ and irritable, and finds it difficult to get to sleep....    

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How to learn this area of practice

This section includes suggested activities and strategies for developing the competences you will require.     

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Useful learning resources

This section provides suggestions for further reading and other resources to help you in your training, including books, journal articles and web resources.

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