Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Practice nurses ‘not getting enough mental health training’, warns leading charity


New statistics have highlighted how little training GPs and practice nurses are being offered in mental health, according to a charity.

Mind highlighted previous survey findings showing that 82% of practice nurses in England feel ill-equipped to deal with aspects of mental health for which they are responsible.

“Offering more training would help patients get the best outcomes”

Paul Farmer

In addition, 42% said they had received no mental health training at all, noted the charity in a new report – titled Better equipped, better care: Improving mental health training for GPs and practice nurses.

Meanwhile, data obtained by Mind showed that, on average, only 46% of trainee GPs undertook a training placement in a mental health setting.

Furthermore, the only mental health-related option offered to trainee GPs was in psychiatry, which is based in hospitals and secondary care-focussed.

The charity highlighted that its findings on clinical education and training contrasted with the fact that the vast majority of people treated for mental health problems are seen within primary care – with 90% doing so solely in primary care settings.

Given how big a role primary care staff play for people with mental health problems, Mind said it was calling on the government to ensure all GPs and practice nurses received structured mental health training that was “comprehensive, relevant and supports their ongoing development”.

It is also urging people to sign a petition calling on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to improve mental health training for trainee GPs and practice nurses.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “GPs and practice nurses have an incredibly difficult job to do, under enormous pressure and demands.


Paul Farmer

Paul Farmer

“A significant number of patients they come into contact with will have experienced mental health problems, yet many primary care staff tell us they haven’t had sufficient training to be able to deal with them,” he said.

He added: “Providing structured mental health training to primary care staff 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.”

“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,” he noted.

Kathryn Yates, the Royal College of Nursing’s professional lead for primary and community care said the “huge amount of demand” on primary and community settings posed by mental health “simply not reflected in 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.

Case study: student nurse

The charity also quoted Felicity, 27, who is studying for a mental health nursing degree in Plymouth but has personal experience of the issue.

She said: “Having a supportive GP who understood mental illness made all the difference. I initially went about my ear infection, but because he asked how other things were, I ended up breaking down in tears and explaining that I wasn’t in a good place mentally either. He talked me through options, such as talking therapy and antidepressants, and arranged a follow up appointment.

She said: “When I went back to the GP after a fortnight, I decided to take citalopram and he signed me off work for a further week. I ended up leaving my job and moving down to Devon to be near my family.

“I now have a new partner, and I’m working towards my dream job of becoming a mental health nurse,” she said. “A lot of what has happened was down to my GP, who was so much better than I ever could have hoped.

“I know not all patients are as fortunate which is why I support Mind’s call to improve mental health training for GPs and practice nurses,” she added.


Readers' comments (4)

  • The majority of GP's and practice nurses are absolutely hopeless when it comes to mental health issues.
    When they cannot cope, any illness the patient has is attributed too mental health. I had increasing abdominal over five years, always attributed to mental health, because my useless GP informed the hospital I had mental health issues (though not receiving any mental health care ./ support or medication). the hospital them assume my problems were imaginary, undergoing a battery of frequent CT / MRI scans, barium swallow, ultra sounds, but still declared nothing was wrong and it was a mental health issue. during this time I had numerous admissions to hospital via 999 and blue lights.
    Change my GP, had one ultra sound and was diagnosed with massive gall stones ... my surgery is tomorrow!
    I often sit and wonder how much all the testing and use of emergency services cost, because one stupid GP allowed his histrionics to get in the way his professional judgment!
    Perhaps th reason we don't share our past mental illness is due to the fear we suffer of being stigmatised and being discriminated against ... and I am a trained nurse SRN / RMN and tutor for student nurse!

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Personally I feel that all GP Practices should have a permanent RMN employed at their surgery. Patients would then be appropriately seen without a huge waiting time by someone who has specialised in mental health.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I agree that care staff and nurses should receive some basic mental health training. there are a lots of people in the community who are slipping through the net.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Arrowe park a n e used a variety of safe?ahem rooms where press poorly spoken to, people were scared, male staff would be moved to areas as ty hey were expected to act as security, pts werntcserchrd by police, police wouldn't stay or assist searches , they'd not do 136 paper work, P sychs out of hour were late, as pts were excluded from times they regularly spent ages in a room that handed been fully cleaned between pts, security and police argued of minding roles, same pts in revolving dootr effect, ud find paracsuicidesvlater or fatelnods over pts sent home. unless u were a serious danger to public to were. referred back to gp. there was unnatural worry on od paracetamol and panic amongst staff over protocol... so psychs would comevwrnnpts was medically fit. refferals on to social
    unserviced or hostels could take days 99to2008 at least I !was doing excess hours due to lack of state
    if. staff often garçons ward full of drug users, ODs, ppl in custody, ppl nosily using for psychs, ppl dying in tiny double room to avoid admittin them . it took arguments to use a bed for a later pt to let girl etc horrid out in die with family private not under half curtain resuscitation..... a free that we'd have to make bed we'd be in other areas but wecwabtedto hep, svrubbbloos ffvit, detox it, remake it n book pybinbif u had time , student were a third aphbwork force, bank nurses who didn't know a new or psychs going I can't take blood , can't do each prior to my seeing psychs a upset girl could end up flippingbout alone n scared try to leave n s!security would have to sit on her almost literally, still not checked for weapons.... two pts died themselves in toilets, one under sheets, few ran off one hung herself in parc, been treated with a knife by and who needed antidote I chased him to car park n nearly got stabbed m Monahan n ppl management said over doorstep it's for ambulances, we'd reg go out find less w!ilingvstsff follow u to fdark car park. security woulcdceventuslly respontbtobshoutingbnbalarm n fivevtkobten mins later take book v or woman back, treated rudevnbroughlybforcpsych to just turn round if they were in hurry and send em home. just as afterwards. whole service provision was poor, one psych, seen by junior nurse n student doing obs. pts often went out of back door nursescused for smoking in trolleys, the berievent room was often decked out for one with bigvtwabbpolice, student still have to do obs, ECG a could refuse so nurses didnit , if pt was sick18 hour out if day we'd have to wash n change. endless they got let go, cept ones with kids theynd stay bec caused vsonoareny ciuld 100% going him lose tell em their child was gonna go thru system, the end up being servously at biggest risk commitying suivide this was regular as senior staff then didnt care took so many loses for the pt. when it was issued v look all risk n shoved in on staff stffvme
    best we were in the rooms corridors , the police or security
    would gonna not tell us n and e manager like me just risked of going bout smoking door , or worse on breaks pt might have weapon n lose it after five hours in solitattary conditions , n go out n throw defib at u in borrow cutvofvextebtion in corriDORS. no one metpntally I'll got help, cut was just one in that happened to be devil axe nurderer.... then we'd all go in gthrubtinyvdoor into trap, pt still not check to see if had knife etc. we all bed dead trying bring to get out as rapidly as poss, there were. always three more crying we keep near to ripped out ground nurses area that has a desk to hold off drunks nbpsychbots but they moved it as we seem more appropriate to get ppl to trust our crazy area that day or shift . social workers evil but getting dr to cert crazy, and still n box the crazys next up in between broken legs falls, all kinds pts loadsa on ecgs in the obs n bloods stage of ? mi. stupid busy n all time cheated by all management, me Maria, harry Clough, Lee Bancroft, all the women sisters all threatened the staff n bullied them into cheating or they got punishments shifts n poor hours n no overtime when they wanted it n be assissigned worst busiest area. horrible place

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs