Background: Mental and substance use disorders are a leading cause of morbidity among young people. Policy and clinical services in Ireland are endeavouring to address these twin issues.
Aims: To review the emerging literature on the role of general practice in addressing youth mental health and to discuss the implications of this literature for further research, education and service delivery.
Methods: We conducted a review of 'PubMed' and a web search of relevant national/international primary/mental healthcare agencies and professional bodies.
Results: Although general practice has an important role in addressing youth mental health, there are challenges in how young people seek help. Specifically, young people do not engage with healthcare agencies and many factors which act as barriers and enablers in this regard have been identified. The detection and treatment of mental and substance use disorders by GPs can be improved and implementing interventions to improve screening and early intervention are likely to be valuable.
Conclusions: General practice is a central agency in addressing youth mental health and complex multifaceted interventions (education, clinical guidelines, and promoting awareness) are likely to support its role. Further research exploring this issue is a priority.