GP wants mental health included in checks
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GP peak body wants mental health included in early childhood health checks

by Freya Lucas

June 28, 2024

The Royal Australian College of GPs (RACGP) has lent its support to calls for early childhood health checks to also include mental health and wellbeing aspects, citing a recent BeyondBlue survey which showed that a third of Australian parents with primary-school aged children are seriously concerned about their child’s mental health, with one in three extremely concerned. 


The roots of children’s mental health and wellbeing are found in the early childhood years, and as such, the peak body believes “we need to take a holistic view of a child’s health and wellbeing,” and to start these considerations early.


Mental health issues in childhood can have a substantial impact on wellbeing, and there is strong evidence that poor mental health can continue to impact on health and wellbeing into adulthood. 


RACGP provided its feedback to the National Mental Health Commission in response to the release of the Draft National Guidelines, with President Dr Nicole Higgins saying “mental health and wellbeing should absolutely be included in early childhood health checks – Australia is in the grips of a youth mental health crisis, and early intervention is critical.”


“GPs are the most visited health service in Australia and they’re at the frontline of mental health care – more than 22 million Australians visit a GP for essential healthcare every year, including mental health care,” she continued. 


“And we are seeing more patients with mental health concerns. The proportion of GPs reporting mental health among their most common reasons for a patient consultation rose from 61 per cent in 2022 to 72 per cent in 2023 in our last Health of the Nation report.”  


“The RACGP is calling for funding for universal annual children’s health checks for the first 2,000 days – this is a critical period which sets a child up for life. And we need to ensure that the essential healthcare children need is affordable for every parent in Australia, no matter where they live or what they earn.”  

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