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The release of the Mental health training standards 2020–22: A guide for general practitioners represents a renewed commitment to continually improve Australia’s primary mental health system.

For most Australians, general practice is the first port of call when they access Australia’s healthcare system, and their general practitioner (GP) is usually the first person they consult about their mental healthcare. An estimated 13% of GP encounters in 2015–16 were related to mental health 1, and GPs and other non-specialist medical practitioners provided more than 2.7 million Medicine Benefits Scheme (MBS)-subsidised mental health services.2

The high prevalence and burden of disease associated with mental illness means that GPs need to be able to detect and treat mental illness, and must play a central role in providing evidence-based, patient-centred care to people living with a mental illness. In addition, given current rates of suicide in Australia, it is critical that GPs have the skills needed to detect and respond to patients at risk of suicide.

For two decades, the work undertaken by the GPMHSC has increased GPs’ skills and knowledge in detecting, diagnosing and managing mental illnesses within the context of general practice. By upholding the standard of high-quality GP training, we will continue to ensure that Australians receive optimal mental healthcare.

Building on this work and complementing the standards of education and training of the RACGP and the ACRRM curriculum for Australian general practice, the mental health training standards in this document focus on post-vocational training and continuing professional development (CPD) for GPs.

I sincerely thank all those who contributed to the consultation and evaluation process that was undertaken to develop these standards. The GPMHSC sought input and advice from professionals who actively provide mental health services in Australia, organisations with a mental health focus and, importantly, from consumers and carers. The feedback we received gave us a greater understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our previous work and helped us to improve the GPMHSC’s approach for the next three years.

On behalf of the GPMHSC, I encourage all GPs to refer to this document when reviewing their current skill sets and when participating in professional development relating to mental health.

Associate Professor Morton Rawlin



  1. Britt H, Miller MG, Henderson J, et al. General practice activity in Australia 2015–16. General practice series no. 40. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2016.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Mental health services in Australia. Canberra: AIHW, 2019. Available at at  [Accessed 31 July 2019].