New award for mental health-friendly GP surgeries is launched

PACE Setter award noticeboard for a GP practice

Having a noticeboard about mental health on display in the practice can help patients feel more understood

A new award for GP surgeries changing how people with mental health issues are treated when they go to see their doctor is launched today.

GPs across West Sussex are being invited to sign up to the Mental Health (MH) PACE Setter Award, which aims to improve services around mental health.

Based on the award-winning Children and Young People PACE Setter, the initiative has been developed by a partnership between Coastal West Sussex Mind and Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). It is  funded by Health Education England.

Coastal West Sussex Mind deputy chief executive Kerrin Page said: “There is some good practice out there. But we know from the people we support that many do have difficult experiences when they go to their local surgery. If someone is feeling extremely anxious, for example, and has built up the courage to go to the doctor to ask for help, they may go in to find a long queue, no information around about mental health, and simply turn around and leave.

“Add to this the fact that about one in three GP appointments involve a mental health component, and it is clear why a change in culture is needed.”

Some of the ways in which doctors can make their practice more mental health-friendly include:

  • having display boards and information leaflets for people
  • offering a double-length appointment slot for specific patients
  • having an appointment with a named GP
  • a section of the practice website with links to information about mental health
  • having a private space in the waiting area
  • registration forms including questions on mental health
  • ensuring the practice is suicide-aware.

GP practices who sign up will each receive £1,000 towards any costs.

Ford woman Tracey, who is a peer mentor with Coastal West Sussex Mind said: “I regularly have appointments with my GP and the service I receive is outstanding. I receive double appointments without having to ask because of my history.

“I feel confident that I can be open and honest with my GP and that the recommendations he suggests to me will be in the best interests of me and my mental health. He listens to what I say and, if sometimes it needs challenging, he will challenge it but in a way that I don’t feel that I’m being put down or that reminds me I have a mental health problem.”

She added: “My GP staff are all friendly and welcoming. I believe that if other practices could follow my GP surgery it will have a positive effect on the community and people who use the surgery – especially those that suffer with mental health and find it difficult to go there.”

“In the past, when I came into the surgery and was feeling distressed, the reception staff supported me. A friendly face at the beginning makes it feel more comfortable for me.

“I hope my surgery is among the first to sign up to the MH PACE Setter award.”

Click here for more information.

Patients and GP surgeries can find out more by ringing Anne Johnson at Coastal West Sussex Mind on 01903 277008,


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