The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has developed a general practice fact sheet providing useful information and resources to help with the impact of flood in relation to mental health.
GPs have been reported to be the most consulted group of health care professionals for people with mental illness, with 71 percent of patients in Australia initially presenting to their GP. Thus, it is likely that GPs will be the most likely health professionals consulted by people who have been affected by the recent floods and are experiencing some difficulties with their mental health.
The fact sheet contains key information about:
- Trauma and response to natural disasters
- Telephone counseling and help lines for patients
- Mental health services directly involving general practitioners
- Useful mental health resources for GPs needing support.
Professor Claire Jackson, RACGP President and GP in Brisbane, said that it is important that GPs take good care in regards to health of their patients, as well as their own mental health, during the coming weeks and months.
“GPs are most likely to be the first point of contact for patients experiencing mental health problems as a result of the floods; hence they should maintain a high level of awareness for depressive and anxious symptoms when treating patients. Also, GPs who look after themselves will be better equipped to provide the best possible care to their patients and the wider community during this unprecedented disaster,” she said.
This topic will be explored further at the 3rd Rural and Remote Mental Health Symposium in Victoria in November 2011.