Mental Health in Primary Care

In 2009/10 we conducted research with NHS Health Scotland to develop a course for primary care and community staff delivering Keep Well health checks.

These health checks are offered to 45-65 year olds in deprived communities, with a view to connecting with people who don't often access primary care because of their economic or social situation (social determinants).

The health checks aim to reduce health inequalities by aiding early diagnosis of long term conditions, and providing the opportunity to get support to give up smoking, lose weight, and discuss health and wellbeing.

We built a course from scratch to help practitioners gain confidence in asking about mental health, using both formal screening tools like the Patient Health Questionnaire for depression (PHQ-9) and the Hosptial Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) questionnaire, and by increasing their knowledge of social determinants in order to discuss mental health whilst addressing other areas of the health check.

The course was offered to 200 practitioners from GPs, Nurses and Healthcare Assistants to Pharmacists, Physiotherapists and Gym Instructors. It has subsequently been delivered annually in Glasgow and the Highlands, and the core modules have been developed for other courses.

This course fits well with training developed for the Living Better projects to enable primary care staff offering long term condition management services to better address mental health during annual diabetes or coronary heart disease check-ups, for example.