workers should replace GPs in mental health work, report urges
new form of community workers should replace GPs as being the first
point of call for many people with mental health problems, a new
think tank report has urged.
new forms of professionals would replace services provided by GPs
who have a workload one third of which is taken up by people with
mental health problems, says the report by the Institute For Public
"access workers'" would offer everything "from a
friendly ear to professional counselling, as well as information
about local support groups and sport or art on prescription".
report - entitled Mental Health in the Mainstream - is a vision
of what the institute believes mental health services should look
like in 2025.
report read: "They [access workers] would offer people a fast
and effective route into specialist services, including access to
psychological treatments and medication.
workers may be professionals with a medical background, such as
GPs with a special interest in mental health, nurses or health visitors.
may also be people from grass roots community organisations who
have appropriate training. They could be based in a variety of mainstream
community locations, such as children's centres, community centres,
GPs' surgeries, libraries or community health centres."
report states that staying mentally well should be given the same
priority by NHS policymakers as keeping physically fit.
are needed to maintain good mental health rather than just treating
people diagnosed with an acute mental illness, argues the report.
report's author Jennifer Rankin said:"There has been real progress
in government approaches and public attitudes to mental issues,
such as depression.
mental health services have not kept pace with demand or improved
as much as the rest of the NHS.
remain concentrated on a small group of people who are acutely unwell.
This does not adequately help all those with long term mental health
problems or people with more common experiences of depression and
2000, the World Health Organisation estimated that mental health
problems accounted for 43% of all years lived with a disability.
Health in the Mainstream is available for £9.95 at www.ippr.org
executive summary of Mental Health In The Mainstream
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