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Patients ‘in the dark’ about side-effects of mental health medication

GPs don’t receive any mandatory practise-based training in mental health

People prescribed medication for their mental health aren’t being given enough information about side-effects by their GP, a charity has warned.

A survey of 12,000 people by Mind found one in three said they would have liked side-effects explained.

Only one in five people (21%) said they were definitely given an explanation about the side-effects that the medication might have, while half didn’t receive enough information about the purpose of their new medication.

GPs receive no mandatory practise-based training in mental health, despite more than 40% of all appointments involving mental health, Mind said.

Of all GPs who finished their training in 2017, less than half (46%) completed an optional psychiatry placement.

The charity is calling for a wider range of training in mental health settings to be available for GPs so they can feel equipped and confident to provide quality support for anyone struggling with their mental health.

Possible side-effects of antidepressants include decreased alertness, sexual problems and mania.

Sophie Corlett, Mind’s director of external relations, said that with GPs often the first port of call for mental health support, it’s crucial they have the opportunity to get the training they need to support patients to have the information to make decisions about their treatment.

“We know prescriptions of certain psychiatric medication are on the rise, for example, 6% more prescriptions for antidepressants were given out in 2016/17 than the year before. Medication can be effective in managing symptoms of mental health problems, but not for everyone. It is critical people are told about potential adverse side effects, such as suicidal thoughts and self-harm, so they can make informed choices,” she added.