GP Experiences: Mental health information on Lambeth GP websites

in 2016, we looked at websites of GP surgeries in Lambeth to find out what information and signposting was available for patients online.
Healthwatch Lambeth thomas-lefebvre

​​​​​​Summary

In 2013 we identified mental health as one of its priority areas of work. Following on from our Vassall report (2015) which indicated that eight in ten people would approach their GP about mental health concerns before anyone else, we wanted to look at what the experience of approaching a Lambeth GP was like. Websites are an important method of communication between surgeries and patients, and have the capacity to speak to patients often before they have even made a face to face appointment. Between September and October 2016, our mental health engagement officer reviewed all 48 Lambeth GP websites to see what specific mental health information they contained, spanning: mental wellbeing, symptoms, specific diagnoses, signposting to treatments and self-care.

Key findings

  • 47 of 48 Lambeth GP websites, though the content varied widely in terms of quality and quantity. One website did not refer in any capacity to mental health.  26 websites included actual information beyond signposting to clinical or information services. Roughly a quarter (13) of the websites reviewed were found to include information in areas that we felt to be ‘easy to find’.

  • Seven websites included either a health A-Z or a mental health A-Z within their homepage, which included information on specific mental health diagnoses and symptoms such as low mood, depression or personality disorder. 

  • Limitations - Lack of information: 21 of all Lambeth GP websites did not provide any specific information

Across Lambeth GP websites there was a large variance and inconsistency around how much information about mental health was provided both in terms of general information about mental health and direction as to how to access support. A few websites were well organised and clear in their presentation of mental health material. However, there were many more examples of websites which did not mention mental health at all, or did not make a concerted effort to make the information accessible or relevant to a wide audience. Worryingly, specific information for children and young people, parents and carers for those with mental health problems were practically left off the radar.

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