Mental health in young people: top tips for GPs

Dr Faraz Mughal, RCGP Clinical Fellow in Mental Health

As part of the Mental Health Clinical Priority at the RCGP we are giving a strong emphasis to providing GPs with brief, practical, and user-friendly educational TopTips articles on a range of mental health illnesses.

The intention is for GPs to refer to these TopTips in daily clinical practice, utilise them for continual professional development, and signpost fellow colleagues to them. To ensure relevance and usefulness the articles are peer-reviewed through the RCGP Clinical Adviser programme which has brought great insights and critical feedback. We thank them for their comments.

We hope that you find these beneficial and we welcome any feedback, comments, or thoughts.

Suicide

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among children and young people (CYP) aged 15-29 worldwide. In the United Kingdom (UK), suicide accounts for 14% of deaths in 10-19 year olds and 21% of deaths in 20-34 year olds. CYP who present to their General Practitioner (GP) are twice as likely to have a mental health problem and thus considering mental illness and suicidal risk is important for all GPs. We have authored a TopTips article to support GPs in the consultation and hope you find it useful.

Bullying 

Bullying is the systematic abuse of power characterised by repeated psychological or physical aggression with the intention of causing distress to another person and is a major risk factor for both acute and long-term physical and mental health problems, poor educational attainment, and difficulty in developing normal social relationships.

Over half of school-aged children in the UK have experienced bullying. Although it is often viewed as a playground problem occurring in both primary and secondary schools, bullying is becoming increasingly community-based with social media giving bullies access to their victims 24/7. Bullying occurs at similar rates across different ethnicities and socio-economic strata. There are, however, gender differences: girls are more likely to experience psychological, emotional and cyber-bullying, whereas boys are more likely to be physically bullied. Parents may seek advice about their child who is the bully which can be difficult for parents to accept. There could be an underlying reason for a child to begin bullying behaviour such as low self-esteem.

Psychodermatology

Psychodermatology refers to the overlap between conditions affecting the skin and the mind. Patients may present with a primary mental health problem and secondary skin manifestations, for
example delusional infestation or skin-picking disorder (widespread excoriations and scarring). More commonly patients present with a primary skin condition (eczema or psoriasis), accompanied by symptoms of social phobia, depression, anxiety, and substance or alcohol misuse.

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