New grants to help bridge gaps in GP mental health training
RURAL GPs will have new opportunities to hone their mental health skills, under a series of grants being handed out to training providers.
It is hoped that the extra training courses, allowing GPs to claim four additional item numbers for delivering Focused Psychological Strategies (FPS), will make some inroads into the unmet demand.
A recent MO poll found that 85% of GPs were interested in further honing their mental health skills, especially in treating anxiety and depression (MO, 6 August 2010).
And Dr Darcy Smith, chair of the RACGP’s Mental Health Standards Collaboration, recently told MO that around 1000 GPs were currently qualified to deliver FPS but there was considerable untapped demand among others (MO, 16 July 2010). With courses taking around 20 hours and mostly held in Sydney and Melbourne, many GPs had struggled to access them, he said.
The RACGP expects 37 grants to be offered under the new project, to help training providers hold FPS courses primarily in rural, regional and remote areas. Grants will range from $8000 to $13,000, depending on location, via funding from the Federal Health Department.
The grants follow the easing of restrictions on FPS training in this year’s federal Budget, to allow non-RACGP-accredited practices to access the item numbers (MO, 4 June 2010). The measure was expected to save $1.9 million over four years by reducing numbers of pharmaceutical prescriptions, according to a spokesperson for the Health Department.
FPS include psycho-education, certain cognitive behavioural therapies, relaxation strategies and stress and anger management skills.
Applications for the new grants should be made to the RACGP by 3 September.