ALMOST a third of all GP appointments in Scotland currently relate to mental health, according to doctors.
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Scotland underlined the scale of demand as it backed a charity’s campaign to help patients access the services they need.
A survey of more than 460 GPs found 85% want more local support for those tackling mental health-related issues.
Almost 75% favoured more alternatives to pharmaceutical treatments in the research by the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH).
The poll was commissioned as part of the charity’s Know Where to Go campaign which aims to help people get information, help and support for their mental health when they need it.
The findings are being discussed today at the Refreshing General Practice in Scotland conference in Edinburgh.
Nearly nine out of 10 GPs (87%) said there is a need for information guides on local mental health services for patients.
More than one in 10 (11%) said they had never undertaken accredited training on mental health and SAMH is recommending ongoing training for GPs on mental health, including suicide prevention.
SAMH chief executive Billy Watson said: “Further investment in local GP services for people with mental health problems is seriously needed to ensure there are a greater number of positive choices available to support their mental health and well-being.
“Every day SAMH sees the real benefits for people who engage with activities such as peer support, self-management, talking therapies, therapeutic horticulture and sport/physical activity, either alongside or instead of a prescription.
“There are some inspiring initiatives already running and a key recommendation of our report is to make sure more GPs know about them.”
Dr Miles Mack, from RCGP Scotland, said: “This survey attracted a tremendous response from GPs right across Scotland, demonstrating the importance of this issue to our members.
“We see large numbers of patients for whom mental health problems form part of a complex health scenario. It is vital that general practice is resourced adequately to ensure that all patients receive the services they need.”