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GPNs 'do not know enough' about antidepressants

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What extra training to GPNs need? What extra training to GPNs need?

Patients taking antidepressants feel that they are not receiving enough support or information from healthcare staff to prepare them for the medication, according to Mind.

Only 48% of respondents to Mind’s survey felt they had been given enough information about side effects from the professional who prescribed them. The mental health charity called for better support for patients to help them cope with the impact antidepressants can have on relationships, work and social life.

READ MORE: Mental health patients rely on ambulances as primary care falters

Recent figures show that the NHS dispensed a record number of antidepressants last year, the majority of which are prescribed by GPs or nurses working in GP practices. Mind called for better training for GPs and GPNs in mental health and has also produced a guide for people taking or thinking of taking antidepressants.

“For most of us, our local GP practice is the first place we go when we’re unwell – whether it’s related to our physical or mental health,’ said Mind senior policy and campaigns officer Emily Waller. ‘GPs and practice nurses have an incredibly difficult job to do, under enormous pressure and demands.’

According to Ms Waller, ‘significant numbers’ of patients at GP surgeries have faced mental health problems, but many primary care staff have told Mind they haven’t had sufficient training to deal with them.

‘Providing structured mental health training to primary care staff, including practice nurses, would help ensure they have the knowledge and confidence to provide quality mental health support to the many patients coming through their doors who are struggling with their mental health,’ she said.

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‘Offering more training would help patients get the best outcomes while also alleviating some of the pressure GPs and practice nurses experience on a daily basis.’

Mind’s research, based on a survey of over 1,000 people taking antidepressants, reveals that 60% of people taking antidepressants feel the medication affects at least one of five key areas of their lives: their sex life, work or study, social life, close relationships, and independence.

More people than ever are taking antidepressants, according to Mind head of information Stephen Buckley.

‘Anyone being prescribed antidepressants should be made aware of the possible side effects they might experience so that they can weigh up the potential benefit against any negative impact on their health or other aspects of their lives,’ he said.

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‘They should also have their treatment reviewed regularly so that any problems can be identified and alternative treatments considered if appropriate.’

Professor John Read, who conducted analysis of Mind’s research at the University of East London, called for better research into the aspects of people’s lives affected by antidepressants, as most research so far has focused on their biological effects.

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