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Spotlight on mental health

A great deal of our GPs’ time is spent dealing with mental health issues. It’s still the most prevalent type of illness, with 84% of GPs seeing more patients than ever before suffering from stress and anxiety.

However, across the country, opinions vary as to the reasons for this increase. In the North West and South West, GPs believe changes in diagnostic criteria are the cause. Financial pressures could be the reason for more mental health problems, according to GPs practicing in London, the South East, East Anglia and the Midlands, and Yorkshire and the Humber region.

  • One of the most interesting opinions came from the East Midlands, where GPs blame the increase in mental health issues on the use of social media for friendship and resulting isolation.

Just under half the GPs we spoke to (47%) believe there are still levels of stigma connected to mental health issues. These may be preventing people from seeking help – but it’s worth noting that 39% of GPs thought media campaigns were having a positive impact on that situation, most notably in the North West, where 59% of GPs shared this view.

But when we spoke to patients, over half our respondents (52%) told us that they’ve suffered from one mental condition or another during their lifetime. Many had experienced symptoms of more than one type of mental illness; 74% knew someone who had suffered or was suffering from mental health problems. Of the people we spoke to, 22% said they were now feeling better; 9% said they were still unwell and 21% of our survey said they still experienced symptoms from time to time.

What was most encouraging, was the fact that over half (57%) the patients we spoke to said they wouldn’t be embarrassed to admit having a mental health problem.

Which mental health conditions are poorly supported by the NHS, according to GPs?
Download our 2013 Health of the Nation report now (PDF 3,622KB)

WC01513 07/2013