Mental health issues the main reason Australians see their GP

19 September, 2017

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says Australians are now presenting to their GP with mental health issues more than any other health concern.

President of the RACGP Dr Bastian Seidel said mental health issues, including depression, mood disorders and anxiety, now dominate GPs' time.

"It is not musculoskeletal problems patients are presenting with most often, or cardiovascular disease – the stock standard medical presentations we always hear about," Dr Seidel said.

"It is psychological issues GPs are dealing with most of the time."

Mental health was cited as a top-three issue by 65% of female GPs and 53% of male GPs in the RACGP's benchmark annual report, General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017.

Dr Seidel said psychological issues are often connected with other issues that patients may be experiencing, including ill health and social circumstances.

"People don't go to their GP and say, 'I just have depression and nothing else'," Dr Seidel said

"People, and their health concerns, are complex."

Dr Seidel encourages Australians to speak to their GP if they have mental health concerns.

"All GPs are trained in mental health," Dr Seidel said.

"I don't only refer my patients to an iPhone app to have some online counselling. That is not the level of comprehensive care GPs offer.

"We don't specialise in one particular condition or disease, we specialise in our patients.

"Patients want to talk to the GP they trust. The GPs who have looked after them for many years."

General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017 also found GPs identify mental health as the health issue causing most concern for the future, followed by obesity and diabetes.

"This is a clear warning of both the current frequency and future potential impact of psychological ailments on individuals, the community and the broader health sector," Dr Seidel said.

Visit the RACGP's website for more information about General Practice: Health of the Nation 2017.