Mental Health Matters: April 2018

April, 2018

Prof Chris Dowrick, Chair of the WONCA Working Party on Mental Health (WWPMH) writes:

This month I have information to share with you about conferences and three publications, relevant to our working party.


WONCA President, Amanda Howe, recently attended the IberoAmericana regional meeting in Colombia. The meeting had two parts - a more business and politically oriented 'Cumbre' ('Summit'), and a more clinical conference.

One of the region's six working themes is 'Family and Community Medicine as a source of Mental Health Care', and the working group for this theme reported progress and then made further recommendations, which were signed off by the meeting. Many of the presentations for other themes, including migrant health and quaternary prevention, also made clear reference to the psychological aspects of our work, and the different dimensions of supporting recovery with interventions that go beyond medication. The meeting as a whole was impressive, and the Minister for Health himself referenced the need for family medicine to be at the centre of personalised care that allows continuity, and a trusting / healing relationship between doctors and their patients. Amanda congratulated the hosts and the active members of the Working Parties in the region, which includes WWPMH, and the full report should be available soon.

Christos Lionis, Vice-Chair of our working party, will chair a meeting for WWPMH members attending the WONCA Europe conference in Krakow next month (24 to 27 May). It will be a perfect opportunity to discuss our achievements and make proposals for new activities. I will let you know the exact time and place, nearer the time.


A new version of our guidance on the first depression consultation is published this month in the British Journal of General Practice. I attach a copy for you to download and print - it is an excellent resource for you to use in your own practice, to share with your colleagues, and to uses as a basis for training events. Download publication

I also attach a fascinating research paper by Francisco Diez-Canseco and colleagues from Lima, Peru. This shows how it is possible - with a lot of hard work - to integrate mental health screening into routine primary care settings. I strongly recommend it as a fine example of how to reduce the mental health gap in primary care.

And if you are interested in how poetry may help us to care for our patients in distress, you may like to follow my current series of blog-posts, titled 'From Despair to Delight: a journey of six sonnets. You can find these here.