“The right to the highest attainable standard of both physical and mental health is a fundamental human right.” World Health Organisation

As an independent cognitive behavioural therapy centre, we are all too aware of the need for GP practices to have mental health expertise available within their clinics. For years we have endeavoured to support GPs in the provision of mental health services, but with an ever increasing need and limited funding available, it has been a continual struggle to provide the level of support which is needed.

#123GP is a grass roots campaign that aims to secure increased funding for GP surgeries to be utilised in the provision of counselling service to the public. The campaign also aims to provide further community-based training programmes which would require all practising GPs to undergo mandatory professional mental health training. Finally it also aims to increase the availability of mental health social workers and CPNs within the GP practice.

It is estimated that in Northern Ireland one in five adults have a mental health condition at any one time, with one in three having attempted suicide at some time in their lives. With the statistics clearly demonstrating the need for increased provision of services in Northern Ireland, it seems appropriate that intervention begins at the first point of contact. Approximately forty percent of all GP appointments are made by patients who are seeking support with their mental health. Partner this with the information that GPs on average have just £2.29 as the current allowance for providing counselling, it is understandable why there is a need for an increase in funding in order to provide adequate mental health support.

Not only would this be beneficial to patients from a personal perspective but the proposed changes also would represent good fiscal policy. With twenty-three percent of all ill health being as a result of mental health difficulties, it is the single largest cause of disability within the UK. It makes sense that early intervention may help to resolve mental health difficulties before they lead to disablement.

It is clear that counselling is an effective treatment for a range of mental health difficulties with talking therapies being repeatedly cited as the best treatment option within guidelines set forth by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE). The aforementioned campaign therefore calls for the HSCB to act immediately and significantly increase funding for GP practice-based counselling in line with the current demand and be proactive in promoting this service among GPs.

The #123GP campaign has already had great success in gaining support for the proposed changes and it is only by continuing to draw attention to the significant need for improved availability of treatment for individuals suffering with a mental health difficulty.

If you would like more information on the campaign or would like to offer support please see the contact details listed below.

Sign the petition: http://bit.ly/onetwothreeGP

Email: sara@pprproject.org