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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


NORTON, Joanna; DAVID, Michel  and  BOULENGER, Jean-Philippe. General practitioners are bearing an increasing burden of the care of common mental disorders in France. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2007, vol.21, n.1, pp.63-70. ISSN 0213-6163.

Introduction: In France, general practice is playing an increasing role in the management of common mental disorders. This is due to a variety of factors, among which the way general practice and specialised mental health services have evolved over time. Methods: A description of the status quo in France, with a comparison between France, the UK and the Netherlands. A review of reasons for the present position. Results: The general practitioner (GP) is often the only medical carer to be contacted in cases of psychological distress and over 80% of psychotropic medications are prescribed in this setting. Although most common forms of mental disorder can be managed at the primary care level, GPs need to be able to refer patients rapidly to specialised mental health services. Yet there are delays for consultations with both private and public psychiatrists along with difficulties in finding beds for full-time hospitalisation. The situation is predicted to get worse with the reduction in the number of psychiatrists and GPs forecasted for the coming years. 'Psychiatric sectorisation' has led to a substantial development of community mental health care services, yet this has not compensated fully for the reduction in full-time hospital beds. Furthermore, community mental health care services remain relatively isolated from other community health services with very limited exchanges with general practice. Conclusion: GPs report an urgent need for training in mental health. Along with improving their ability to accurately detect and treat mental disorders, it is crucial also to improve communication between GPs and psychiatrists and increase shared case-management. Structural changes are also necessary to ensure a quicker and easier access to specialised mental health care services.

Keywords : Primary health care; Mental health; Review; Training.

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