Core Competencies of Family Doctors in Mental Health Care - 2018

Chris Dowrick, chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health writes about the latest resource produced by his Working Party : Core Competencies of Family Doctors in Mental Health Care.

As family doctors, we frequently come into contact with patients with mental health problems. But many of us are uncertain about what family doctors should be able to do to help them. So, the WONCA Working Party for Mental Health has produced guidance on what can reasonably be expected of all trained and qualified family doctors, working in primary care settings in any part of the world, when caring for people with mental health problems.

We consider that there are six domains for the core competencies of family doctors in primary mental health care.
1. Values: Family doctors consider mental health to be important.
2. Communication skills: Family doctors adopt person-centred approaches to assess, manage and support people with mental health problems.
3. Assessment: Family doctors identify and diagnose common mental health problems, and can identify severe mental health problems and assess risk.
4. Management: Family doctors manage people with common mental health problems, and the physical health of people with severe mental health problems.
5. Collaboration and referral: Family doctors use a range of available options and resources for care of people with mental health problems, and tailor them to patients’ and carers’ needs.
6. Reflective practice: Family doctors take care of their own health and well-being.

In our document on core competencies, we present the core competencies for family doctors within each of these domains. We also note competencies that would be expected for more advanced practice. We offer practical examples, supported by key resources and references. We consider policy, training and research implications of these competencies. Finally, we explain how this document has been generated.

We have also just received formal endorsement from the Royal College of General Practitioners for this document.
Core Competencies of Family Doctors in Mental Health Care