Faraz Mughal is a GP in Birmingham and the RCGP Clinical Fellow in Children and Young People’s Mental Health. He is on Twitter: @farazhmughal
Making scholarship part of my daily practice contributes to the intellectual challenge and enjoyment of my work in general practice.
Self-harm affects 1 in 12 child or young people (CYP).1 Nearly 10% of 5-16 year-olds have a mental health illness which means in an average school class of 30 schoolchildren, three will suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. With increasing pressures facing young people in all aspects of their lives, the rates of mental illness are likely to rise. CYP mental health is thus a challenge for GPs everywhere.
At the frontline, we as GPs detect mental health illness; whether it presents as a physical health symptom, through parental/family concern, or simply an instinct you have when seeing a CYP in surgery. It is known that CYP with mental illness are twice as likely to attend to see their GP.1 Mental health is something we should be all thinking in every CYP we see.
But it can be an area of practice that we all find difficult, we can feel uncomfortable tackling this clinical area. Locally GPs have described, both personal issues (a lack of training) and service problems (difficulties accessing specialist services) as reasons for this.
In my own practice, I realised that there were limited resources available in this area and that accessing support from specialist services was difficult. I explored this further and realised others were experiencing similar problems. So, I began to think about how I could help address this, how I could improve my own practice while also helping the wider primary care community?
When RCGP advertised an opportunity to become the RCGP Clinical Fellow for CYP Mental Health I grabbed the chance to apply (these are regularly advertised through the RCGP so do keep an eye out!). Through this role, I have been part of an enthusiastic team developing quick-access resources for GPs and primary care staff to use in consultations with patients (accessed through the RCGP Mental Health Toolkit: http://www.rcgp.org.uk/clinical-and-research/toolkits/mental-health-toolkit.aspx). I also have the chance to influence policy through pushing for improvements in national and local services for CYP mental health. In addition, we have developed ‘TopTips’ articles for GPs on self-harm and eating disorders in CYP with more in the pipeline.
We are always thinking of how we can support GPs and if you would like to get involved with the college on working in this area, please do get in touch, we would be really pleased to hear from GPs and primary care professionals who want to work with us.
1. Department of Health. Future in mind: promoting, protecting, and improving our children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing. 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/improving-mental-health-services-for-young-people
You can read Revitalising general practice: unleashing our inner scholar by Joanne Reeve and Adam Firth at the BJGP here.