First Contact Mental Health Practitioners to support adults with mental health care in North Yorkshire

NHS Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board (ICB), Primary Care Networks (PCNs) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), have worked in partnership to deliver and fund the First Contact Mental Health Practitioners service, which is aimed at reducing the wait – or even need – to see a GP.

The dedicated practitioners are working at most GP practices across North Yorkshire, with the partnership working to roll the service out to all practices. The practitioners assess people who contact their GPs with mental health related illnesses to ensure that they receive proactive, effective and timely care, along with additional signposting and information as needed.

This approach seeks to increase and speed up access to mental health support, along with strengthening relationships through the sharing of knowledge across primary care, secondary care, the voluntary sector and the community sector.

“The demand on mental health services has increased significantly and many people are contacting their GP with mental health concerns including anxiety, low mood and depression,” said Peter Billingsley, GP and clinical lead for vulnerable people at the ICB. “We want to enable people to get help and support quickly and as close to home as possible.

“These new roles create a more joined-up approach between different teams and enable more and more mental health care and support to be provided at local GP practices and closer to home for many. We hope to see less handover between clinicians and people waiting less time for that all important first-contact support or advice.”

The project is aligned to the North Yorkshire and York Community Mental Health Transformation Programme, which seeks to develop and transform local community mental health to provide people with greater choice and control over care.

David Kerr, Community Mental Health Transformation Programme and Delivery Lead for North Yorkshire and York added: “We’re currently recruiting new First Contact Mental Health Practitioner roles for the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) to expand this support to some of our most vulnerable and to focus on prevention.”