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Practice nurses feel ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with mental health issues

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Primary care is the first port of call Primary care is the first port of call for the vast majority of people with mental health concerns

Practice nurses are receiving very little mental health training according to data from mental health charity Mind.

Some 82% of practice nurses felt they were ‘ill-equipped’ to deal with the mental health problems they are responsible for. More than two in five said they haven’t received any training at all.

The charity released the results and recommendations in a report, Better equipped. better care.

It calls upon the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to set a required number of training hours for practice nurses on supporting people with mental health problems. Kathryn Yates, professional lead for primary and community care at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said that the high level of mental health problems that present in primary and community services, isn’t reflected by the training available.

‘More training for primary care staff would not only help people to manage their mental health and wellbeing better, but could also ease pressure on other parts of the health service,’ she said.

‘A person with a mental health problem must be able to expect that any staff member they talk to or seek support or treatment from should be fully trained and confident in helping them.’

Over 80% of people first come into contact with mental health services via their GP or practice nurse with 90% of people receiving treatment and care for their mental health problem solely in primary care settings.

The report also recommended that all GP practices set aside sufficient funding for high-quality mental health training for all members of primary care staff. This also includes suicide prevention training for frontline staff.

Mind is urging people to sign a petition calling on secretary of state for health Jeremy Hunt, to improve mental health training for trainee GPs and practice nurses. It has already received over 12,000 signatures.

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