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Mental health in general practice training

Mental Health Skills Training

To begin mental health training, GPs complete a GPMHSC-accredited Mental Health Skills Training (MHST; Level 1). This training is associated with the GP as the assessor/triage and referrer for mental illness. This has two pathways and GPs can choose the one most suited to their needs and situation:

  • the Primary Pathway, usually completed by general practice registrars and other doctors entering Australian general practice
  • the Modular Pathway, usually completed by more experienced GPs and GPs who have an interest in mental health.

Learning outcomes

After completing the MHST (Level 1), it is expected a GP will have:

  • the skills to recognise and assess mental illnesses in order to prepare  evidence-based GPMHTPs
  • the skills to monitor and review the patient’s progress
  • insight into the perspective of people who have experienced mental illness
  • insight into the perspective of non-professional carers caring for people living with mental illness.

When a GP achieves MHST accreditation through approval with Medicare, they can provide services with the MBS item numbers 2715 and 2717.

FPS Skills Training

FPS Skills Training (FPS ST) is associated with the GP as a treatment provider for at-risk groups and mild mental illness. In particular, a GP provider of FPS can ensure treatment within their own communities in rural and remote locations. To achieve FPS ST accreditation, a GP must have already completed MHST (Level 1). The GP must then complete a GPMHSC-accredited FPS ST activity comprised of:

  • a minimum of 12 hours of face-to-face or live/interactive contact time (these can be delivered over consecutive weekdays or a weekend)
  • an additional interactive structured learning activity of a minimum of eight hours
  • presentations from a carer and a consumer
  • a predisposing activity
  • a reinforcing activity.

Once the activity is completed, the GP can then apply to the GPMHSC to register with Medicare using the appropriate form.

Learning outcomes

After completing the FPS ST, it is expected a GP will be able to:

  • select and use appropriate evidence-based FPS that are relevant to patient issues and needs, as outlined in the GPMHTP
  • incorporate the perspectives and needs of the patient, their carers and others in the patient’s network, as outlined in the GPMHTP, into the FPS that you provide
  • use your practice’s systems to identify local services and resources that safeguard patient safety and help to provide holistic mental health care to patients
  • use appropriate MBS item numbers relating to the provision of mental health care
  • know and understand the value of regular professional supervision with a more experienced mental health professional and of completing other professional development in order to maintain and extend your skills in the provision of FPS.

Retaining registration as an FPS provider

Once a GP is registered as an FPS provider, they are required to complete at least one FPS CPD activity each triennium to retain registration and use relevant MBS item numbers.

Mental Health Continuing Professional Development and FPS Continuing Professional Development

Mental Health Continuing Professional Development (MH CPD) and FPS Continuing Professional Development (FPS CPD) activities allow GPs to extend their skills in mental health in areas of interest. This training can assist GPs when considering their patient communities and populations. The GPMHSC strongly encourages all GPs to complete mental health–related CPD.


MH CPD activities aim to extend GP skills in assessing or managing mental illnesses in the context of general practice.

Because MH CPD builds on the areas addressed in MHST, the GPMHSC encourages GPs to complete a variety of MH CPD activities as part of their ongoing professional development, even though it is not mandatory.

Completing clinical enhancement modules (CEMs) is a good way of keeping your mental health skills and knowledge up to date and ensuring that you have a broad knowledge across several different areas. GPs can choose the Mental Health CEM activity that suits their specific needs or areas of interest.

Mental illnesses applicable to these activities need to be conditions that enable the access of a GPMHTP. GPs are encouraged to complete a range of Mental Health CEMs as part of their CPD.


  • build on the knowledge acquired in the core module
  • apply that knowledge to a specific mental health condition, complex situations or a specific consumer group, so they are therefore more specific than the activities in the MHST Primary Pathway.


The GPMHSC strongly recommend that GPs complete modules that address areas such as suicide prevention, family violence, use of alcohol and other drugs, and other areas relevant to the community in which they practice.


FPS CPD builds on the skills GPs have acquired during FPS ST, and extends these skills in providing FPS as part of treatment under a GPMHTP plan.

GPs can attend courses conducted by training providers or design their own CPD activity. If a GP designs a CPD activity, accreditation by the GPMHSC is required. Contact the GPMHSC to find out what is required to have your CPD activity accredited.

Access the Mental health training standards 2017–19: A guide for general practitioners for detailed information about the specific education and training required before being eligible to access mental health care MBS item numbers.


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