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What is the role of the GP in stepped care?

GPs are typically the first point of clinical contact for people seeking help for mental health problems and mental illness. The ongoing nature of the GP–patient relationship provides the opportunity to appropriately screen for and identify mental health issues impacting patient wellbeing.

GPs are best placed to understand and manage a patient’s mental health needs in the context of their physical health, economic participation and social inclusion. GPs play an integral role in directing treatment through referrals to other service providers, from early intervention low-intensity services to higher intensity care coordination and case management.

GPs generally manage mental illness, providing continuity of care using a  multi-tiered approach:

  • GP counselling of patient without the structure of formal psychological therapy
  • Referral to digital mental health treatment programs
  • GP assessment and diagnosis, with option of prescription medication
  • GP delivering face-to-face focused psychological therapy (for appropriately trained GP)
  • Referral to an allied health professional such as a psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker or a specialist psychiatry service through a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan (GPMHTP)
  • Support to access disability services
  • Engagement with families and carers



Working with the Stepped Care Model