Primary health care setting
Studies assessing the number of patients with mental health problems in health care settings (Gater et al., 1998; Ustun et al., 1998) have shown that a large number of people with mental health problems in the community do not seek treatment. Through their awareness-raising campaigns and efforts to reduce the stigma associated with mental health problems, Mental Health Ireland can play a significant role in increasing the number of people seeking help for their mental health problems.
For those that do seek treatment, primary care is usually the first point of contact with the health services. Ninety percent of people with mental health problems in Ireland who access services are cared for entirely within primary care (Mental Health Reform, 2013). Mental Health Ireland recognises that the majority of common mental health problems are dealt with in primary care and that there is a need for effective mental health promotion initiatives in this setting. Mental Health Ireland is in an ideal position to forge links between primary care and community organisations and can work in partnership to strengthen access to community and voluntary services for those with common mental health problems. Other potential partnership initiatives include social prescribing for mental health and the provision of advice and information on mental health issues and services. Such an approach to mental health promotion in primary care is endorsed by ‘A Vision for Change’. Mental Health Ireland will also advocate for more provision of evidence-based mental health therapies in primary health care and in the community.