Awareness, GP News

07 October, 2017

Annual survey: almost all GPs open to referring to St Patrick's

St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services’ annual GP survey, which questioned a nationally representative sample of 100 General Practitioners, has revealed that 93 per cent of GPs are open to referring patients to SPMHS.

The survey also gave interesting insights into why GPs refer to SPMHS and the opportunities that are there for future improvements.

GPs referrals 

Depression (95 per cent) remains the most common mental health problem for which GPs refer service users to mental health services. Anxiety (52 per cent) is the second most common reason, while those referred due to psychotic disorders is 29 per cent.

Traditional therapy remains the preference of nearly all GPs, with 98 per cent of GPs stating they would recommend face-to-face therapy as a first preference.

The reputation of the hospital (86 per cent) and the consultant’s reputation and experience (77 per cent) were sighted as important factors influencing GPs referrals to SPMHS.

Only one GP who had engaged with SPMHS said that the follow up communication was negative, although over half (57 per cent) said the referral process could be improved.

82 per cent of those surveyed are aware of the community based Dean Clinics which are run by SPMHS, however 60 per cent and not aware that the Dean Clinic offer a free mental health assessment for patients referred by their GP.

Opportunities and awareness

Not all GPs that took the survey are aware of the services that are provided by SPMHS.

In fact, only 64 per cent of GPs are familiar with SPMHS, while just over half (51 per cent) of GPs know that SPMHS offers in-patient services.

When it comes to opportunity for improvement, 77 per cent said making the service cheaper would aid future access, while 70 per cent said creating awareness around the services offered would help.

The majority (82 per cent) of GPs surveyed would like to receive more information about the services that SPMHS provides. However, most would like to be contacted just a few times per year.

Half of all respondents who have not previously referred to SPMHS said they had not done so due to the distance potential service users would have to travel.

GP learning

Nearly all GPs indicated that they would be interested in CPD that covered treatment options and therapies, while management in primary care (89 per cent) and treating anxiety (88 per cent) were also popular topics.

A third (32 per cent) of those surveyed said they would prefer to do their CPD courses online.


This year’s survey has revealed that almost all GPs are open to referring to SPMHS and almost all that do receive positive follow-up communication.

Depression remains the most common mental health problem, while SPMHS has the opportunity for improvement in awareness and information in regards to the services it provides.

Further information

For further information on our services you can contact our confidential telephone and email service available for public and GPs, staffed by experienced mental health nurses 9-5 Monday to Friday.

You can contact the service by calling 01 249 3333, or email There is also information available for GPs on our website and there is information regarding services and programmes.

Tags:   Survey   Suicide prevention day   Referral