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The release of the Mental health training standards 2023–25: A guide for general practitioners represents the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration’s (GPMHSC’s) renewed commitment to continually improve Australia’s primary mental health system.

For most Australians, a general practice is the first port of call when they access Australia’s healthcare system, and their general practitioner (GP) is usually the first person they consult about their mental health care. Based on findings from the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, in 2020–21, almost 13% of Australians aged 16–85 saw a GP for their mental health.1

The high prevalence and burden of disease associated with mental illness means that GPs must be able to detect and treat mental illness, and play a central role in providing evidence-based, patient-centred care to people living with a mental illness.

In addition, given the current rates of suicide in Australia, it is critical that GPs have the skills needed to detect and respond to patients at risk of suicide.

For two decades, the work undertaken by the GPMHSC has increased GPs’ skills and knowledge in detecting, diagnosing and managing mental illnesses in the context of general practice. By upholding the standards of high-quality general practice training through documents such as this, the GPMHSC will continue to improve the quality of mental health care in Australia.

These mental health training standards complement the standards of education and training of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM) curriculum for Australian general practice, by focusing on GPs’ post-vocational training and continuing professional development (CPD).

I sincerely thank all those who contributed to the consultation and evaluation process that was undertaken to develop these standards. The GPMHSC sought input and advice from professionals who actively provide mental health services in Australia; organisations with a mental health focus; and, importantly, from consumers and carers. The feedback we received improved our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our previous work and helped us to improve our approach to the work to be undertaken over the next three years.

On behalf of the GPMHSC, I encourage you to refer to this document when reviewing your current skill sets and when participating in professional development relating to mental health.

Lastly, I would like to thank all past and present members of the GPMHSC Committee. At the time of publication, the current members are Dr James Antoniadis, Dr Zena Burgess, Dr Eleanor Chew, Dr Michael Eaton, Ms Margaret Lewry, Professor Graham Meadows, Ms Heather Nowak, Dr Molly Shorthouse and Associate Professor Louise Stone.

Associate Professor Morton Rawlin
Chair, General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration