24 December 2013

NICE Pathway on Common Mental Health Disorders a 'One-Stop-Shop' for Advice

GPs now have quick and easy access to everything NICE has to say on common mental health disorders following the publication of a new NICE Pathway on the topic.

Mental health disorders, such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, are thought to affect 15 per cent of the population at any one time.

While GPs encounter patients with such issues on a regular basis, the identification and recognition of these disorders can vary, meaning patients are not always receiving appropriate treatment.

This is partly due to under-recognition of certain conditions, patients' concerns about the stigma associated with mental health problems, and the difficulty in diagnosing and treating patients with coexisting conditions.

The newly published NICE Pathway on common mental health disorders aims to address these problems by visually representing everything NICE has recommended on the various common mental health disorders GPs are likely to encounter.

The pathway overview page provides a gateway to all of NICE's recommendations from diagnosis to management and principles for treatment and referral.

The page brings together all of NICE's recommendations on:

  • Antenatal and postal mental health
  • Depression
  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

This allows for easy access to recommendations on separate conditions - an important consideration given that patients often present with two or more coexisting conditions.

Dr Rosie Benneyworth, a GP, clinical commissioner for St James Medical Centre and Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, and Fellow at NICE, said: "Common mental health disorders make up a large proportion of the work we see in primary care.

"A large number of people who have long-term conditions are also likely to have mental health disorders, so anything that improves primary care's ability to identify these conditions, treat them appropriately and reduce variation in care is very welcome."

She added: "This NICE Pathway is comprehensive in terms of covering all of the common mental health disorders that we commonly see."The stepped model of care is very helpful as it helps you prioritise which are the most important conditions. I also think it's really helpful to have the information for these coexisting disorders that we commonly see side-by-side in one place."

Professor Tony Kendrick, Professor of Primary Care at the University of Southampton, said: "NICE Pathways are a really useful tool. They bring various pieces of guidance under one banner, allowing you to navigate between related topics within a network of information.

"Particularly useful is the ability to get an overview of a particular topic, so that you can get an outline of a topic area, but equally, drill down to the detail within this context, as in the NICE Pathway on common mental health disorders."