College responds to the rising rates of referrals to mental health services for young patients

Dr Victoria Tzortziou-Brown, Vice Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: “GPs and our teams take the mental health of all our patients extremely seriously. While it’s clearly concerning that so many children and young people are struggling with their mental health, increasing rates of referrals to CAMHS could also signify greater societal openness to discussing mental health and a reduced stigma in asking for help.

“When assessing a child or young person with mental health concerns, GPs will consider the many different factors potentially affecting the individual and agree a treatment plan or onward referral to dedicated services after discussing the options with the patient and their parents, as appropriate.

“Everyone should feel comfortable seeking support if they are at all concerned about their mental health – and we need to ensure there are enough onward specialist services to refer people on to if required. Currently, access can be patchy across the country, referrals are sometimes bounced back, and patients may have to wait too long to get the help they need.

"More widely, the treatment of patients with mental health concerns relies on a robust primary care system that has the capacity to respond to the increasing mental health needs of our patients, where consultations aren’t rushed and patients can receive the help they need - so the intense workload and workforce pressures facing GPs and our teams must be addressed."

Further information

RCGP Press office: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 54,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.