YOUNG people in Limerick’s regeneration areas are more likely to attend their GP with mental health or substance abuse issues rather than for any acute medical problem, researchers at the Graduate Medical School have found.
And depression, anxiety and family strife were among the most common reasons for GP visits by young people of all backgrounds across Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary.
These are among the chief findings of a survey of 40 GPs in the region conducted by staff at the Centre for Interventions in Infection, Inflammation and Immunity - a research centre attached to the Graduate Medical School.
Professor Colum Dunne, director of research at the school, commented:
“This study has shown that relatively large numbers of young people may not always be aware of, or able to access, appropriate health services. GPs at the coalface of primary patient care are frequently encountering complex mental health issues in young patients and are attempting, as best they can, to care for these patients in a primary care setting”.
Of the young patients who did attend with mental health issues, the vast majority have their care managed by their GP - but one in 10 are referred to specialist services. Limited access to such specialist services is huge concern for local GPs.
Most of the GPs who responded to the survey reported seeing at least 250 young people a year who have concerns about depression and anxiety; family conflict; suicide and self-harm; substance abuse and conditions such as ADHD.
The study - Primary Care Support for Youth Mental Health: a Preliminary Evidence Base for Ireland’s Mid-West - is co-authored by a number of UL academics and researchers and has been published in the Irish Journal of Medical Science.