Referring to a GP can be the first step in getting a young person treatment for emerging mental health difficulties. Find out how they can help, and how to make it easier to access a GP. It’s important to find a mental health trained GP. ReachOut.com has resources that can help young people make the decision.
GPs can assist with:
- diagnosing anxiety or depression
- medications/prescriptions for some mental health difficulties
- getting referrals to special mental health interventions (i.e. psychiatrist).
Why refer to a general practitioner?
A general practitioner can be a good starting point to discuss mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression, obtain medications/prescriptions for some mental health difficulties, and to get referrals to more specialist mental health interventions like a psychologist.
It is recommended to search for a GP who has a background working with young people with mental health difficulties. A good place to start is contacting your local community health care centre, using the beyondblue directory, or contacting a specific youth health service with GPs such as headspace.
Making it easier to access a GP
Factors that can affect whether a young person will visit a GP are the things such as financial concerns, the accessibility (location and time it takes to see a GP), stigma, shame, fear, and not understanding the role of a GP. All health care professionals across all networks should be aware of these factors, and do what they can to lessen their impact in order to make the young person's help seeking journey as beneficial as possible. For example, helping them to obtain their own Medicare card prior to meeting with a GP would reduce their financial concerns.
Traditionally there have been obstacles to delivery of quality mental health care in general practice. Factors to consider are limited education and training about mental health difficulties and GPs having limited referral pathways. The Department of Health and Ageing has funded the Better Access initiative which aims to address factors such as these.
Finding a mental health trained GP
beyondblue offers a searchable directory on their site to locate a GP or health care professional trained in mental health in your local area.
Resources for young people
ReachOut.com has a range of fact sheets and information that can help a young person make the decision to access a GP.