Objective: The high prevalence of mental disorders and the barriers to detection and treatment of these in general practice are well recognized. As such, the government has placed great emphasis on training general practitioners (GPs) in primary care mental health and on the provision of support for GPs in the delivery of such services. The current paper aims to evaluate a local, rural training program in mental health for GPs. We hypothesized that local 'context-driven' training would lead to increased knowledge and reported change in practice by GPs with mental health patients.
Method: Locally developed and delivered 'Level 1' training was offered to GPs through the Better Outcomes in Mental Health Care initiative. The training was provided with 6-hour workshops covering mental health assessment and management planning. The training was evaluated through pre- and 6-week post-questionnaires assessing attitudes and practice with respect to treatment of patients with mental health problems.
Results: Forty-nine GPs from the Loddon Campaspe Southern Mallee region of Victoria participated in the training. Following the 6-hour workshop, there was an increase in reported use of psychoeducation for patients with depression, use of cognitive behavioural therapy for patients with anxiety, and ease in obtaining advice to assist with the management of psychosis.
Conclusions: GP mental health education should take into consideration the local context, cover systems issues as well as skills development, and aim to develop personal relationships between mental health clinicians and GPs to enhance outcomes.