Developing and maintaining a practice noticeboard regarding mental health can be a great resource for patients. It can also make patients feel that the practice has a good understanding regarding mental health and will be supportive to their needs.
One of our own Mental Health PACE Setter team discovered this issue only very recently! Does your practice's new registration form include a section asking about the patient’s mental health? Ensuring this kind of question is in place is an excellent first step in recognising and treating the whole person. This should help to ensure your relationship with this patient is built on a more solid grounding.
Mental health users/champions highlight that better customer service including telephone skills (coupled and ideally with a mental health friendly culture and attitude) in primary care practices should be a priority area. Workshops with receptionists/admin staff around first contact have proved highly valuable.
Effective yet sensitive triage would help to improve patient experience and ensure the person seeking help is seen by the right person at the right time.
Some patients who are anxious or worried may benefit from a private space while waiting . This could be a separate private waiting area; waiting in their car until their appointment or sensitively being offered the first appointment of the session so that their waiting time is minimised.
Dr Ali Parrish from Selsey Medical Practice developed and delivered a presentation around GP consulting skills for a CWS CCG Encircle event in 2015. These resources provide a good starting point for discussing and thinking about how GPs and other practice staff engage with patients with mental health problems. Please click here to access this PowerPoint presentation.
Some practices will phone patients with known mental health needs if they do not attend an appointment. If a patient has not felt able to come in, a phone consultation may provide an alternative way of giving support.
Primary care has such an important role to play in suicide prevention so it is vital staff working in the practice feel confident enough to identify those at risk. Suicide is linked to frequent GP visits; by the time patients are visiting their GP every fortnight, on average their risk of suicide increases 12-fold. ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) provides helpers with a clear pathway for assisting life and exploring ways to keep ‘safe for now.’ Simple things like displaying the ASIST sticker in the surgery and providing information on how to download the Grassroots Stay Alive App tells those struggling to cope ‘It’s safe to talk about suicide here.’ http://www.prevent-suicide.org.uk/
The “Heads Together” campaign highlights the importance of allowing staff time to debrief after a stressful call, appointment etc. Therefore building a support structure into the practice routine (be it a cup of tea or a buddy system etc) is very important. Some practices are using Encircle to offer a range of well-being activities to their staff including Relaxation and Health, Laughter for Everyday Resilience and The Healthy Worker.
A support programme to assist GPs achieve a healthy balance in their life.
5 Ways to Well-being is a great framework for staff to talk to each other and think about maintaining their own mental health and well-being.
A staff well-being noticeboard can sign-post staff to resources which are available to support their mental health and well-being. It highlights that the practices recognises that staff emotional well-being is important
Job shadowing can be a great way to learn and develop relationships with others at the same time. This could be staff in other practices or in other relevant mental health organisations/services.
Simple group activities can help to build a sense of team and improve staff health and well-being. For example, starting a practice choir, having a regular practice/team lunch or ensuring staff take breaks together etc.
CWSX Mind has provided mental health resilience training to staff working in Emergency Services in West Sussex. This kind of resilience training could be really beneficial to primary care practice staff.
In addition, CWSX Mind piloted a range of Mental Health Awareness Training for primary care practices in West Sussex between Sept 2016 and March 2017. This included:
CWSX Mind can provide access to this type of training for practices who sign up to the Mental Health PACE Setter Award.
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