GP Mental Health Forum

image - GP's Mental Health Forum

School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney


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The School of Psychiatry, UNSW (The University of New South Wales), in partnership with Central and Eastern Sydney Primary Health Network (CESPHN)  held the first GP Mental Health Forum on the 30th March 2019. The aim of the Forum is to provide practical knowledge and tools which could improve medical services, in addition to enhance providers awareness to mental health problems and potential solutions.

In this event, key contemporaneous topics will be addressed, for example:  how do I assess elderly patients’ cognition? How can I assist patients with co-morbid mental health and substance misuse issues? When and how to commence, monitor and select an appropriate SSRI treatment for adolescents and adults? Can the Internet assist with mental health treatment?

The Forum will be hosted by highly qualified speakers, who will offer practical tools, lead case study discussions and share evidence-based information, which will improve clinical services related to mental health diagnoses, treatments and best practices. 


Dr Michael Murphy

Dr Michael Murphy

Consultation Liaison Psychiatrist (PoW & Orange Health Service), Conjoint Lecturer & PhD candidate at UNSW.

Scientia Professor Henry Brodaty

Professor Henry Brodaty

Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health at UNSW, Head of the Memory Clinic at PoW Hospital.

Professor Carmelle Peisah

Professor Carmelle Peisah

Old age psychiatrist, Conjoint Professor UNSW and Clinical A/Professor Sydney University.

image - GP's Mental Health Forum

Dr Julia Lappin

Consultant Psychiatrist at the Bondi Junction Early Psychosis Program, Senior Lecturer at UNSW.

Dr Simon Rosenbaum

Dr Simon Rosenbaum

Senior Research Fellow in the School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney and the Black Dog Institute.

Professor Valsa Eapen

Professor Valsa Eapen

Chair of Infant, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Head of the Academic Unit of Child Psychiatry, UNSW.

Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell

Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell

Scientia Professor in School of Psychiatry, UNSW Sydney.

Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell

Professor Kay Wilhelm

Conjoint Prof UNSW Psychiatry UNSW Sydney.

Learn more about the speakers here.

2019 Programme


Arrival, registration and light lunch.


Opening address (including acknowledgement of the country).

Facilitator: Dr Jon Levenston


Hot topic 1 (15 min presentation + 10 min for questions)
How to ‘hold’ a case while waiting 6-8 weeks to see a mental health professional.
Speaker: Professor Kay Wilhelm

Professor Wilhelm will present on imperatives and strategies to assist in managing acute mental illness in the general practice consulting room. There will be an ‘ask the expert’ discussion forum immediately following.


Hot topic 2 (15 min presentation + 10 min for questions)
What patients might benefit from e-Mental health interventions for depression and anxiety? Examples from e-Mental health research in psycho-oncology and clinical practice.
Speaker: Dr Michael Murphy

Internet and app-based technologies to deliver mental health information and treatment programs are becoming more and more popular. e-Mental health interventions are an appropriate treatment option to manage mild to moderate conditions, in particular for depression and anxiety. In some cases, it may be the preferred and only treatment a patient requires. The speaker will give a brief overview of the development and trial of e-Mental health interventions for patients with depression and anxiety with co-morbid cancer (both survivors and those with advanced cancer). This will allow the audience to appreciate the evidence for and against their use. Additionally, a brief overview of useful websites and e-mental health treatment programs will be provided.


Workshop 1 (75min)
How should I assess my older patient complaining of memory problems?
Assessing cognition and testamentary and other legal capacities in older adults.
Speakers: Sciential Professor Henry Brodaty and Professor Carmelle Peisah

The workshop will have two parts. The first will discuss and role-play different methods and tools for assessing cognition. The second will focus on the role of GPs in assessing legal capacity, what is involved and what are the best strategies. Challenging cases and indications for referral for specialist assessment will also be discussed, including how to assess patients from CALD backgrounds, neurodegenerative language disorders, and highly educated, high functioning individuals who may be missed on usual screening assessment.


Break (15 min)


Workshop 2 (75 min)
Managing comorbid mental health and substance use difficulties.
Speaker: Dr Julia Lappin

This workshop will provide an opportunity to consider effective approaches to the management of people with comorbid mental health and substance misuse issues. Many people with mental health problems have comorbid substance use problems. For example, up to half of people with first episode psychosis in NSW have a comorbid substance misuse problem, predominantly cannabis or methamphetamine. Comorbid alcohol and/or cannabis use are commonly seen among people with depression and anxiety. This may reflect self-medication, poor support networks, or risk factors (such as trauma) and stressors which predispose to the development of both mental illness and to substance use. Despite comorbidity being a common problem, most guidelines for management tend to focus on treatment of either the mental health issue, or the substance use issue. In reality, management of these individuals is complex and made more difficult by their often poor engagement with health services. This talk provides opportunity to discuss some complex case examples and reflect on best approaches to management of their care. The workshop will be facilitated by a consultant psychiatrist and informed by the experiences of the professionals in the audience, and the perspective of a person with lived experience.


Hot topic 3 (15 min presentation + 10 min for questions)
Muscling up on mental illness: evidence-based lifestyle interventions
Speaker: Dr Simon Rosenbaum

This talk will outline the evidence for exercise and dietary based interventions in the treatment and prevention of mental illness, and for common physical comorbidities including metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease.


Hot topic 4 (15 min presentation + 10 min for questions)
When and how to choose and commence an SSRI: adolescents
Speaker: Professor Valsa Eapen

The decision of whether a SSRI is indicated for adolescents and how to select and then commence an appropriate agent will be reviewed. Informed consent, monitoring, and alternative or complementary interventions will all be broached. Common indications for the use of SSRIs in young people will also be covered. This will be followed by an opportunity to ‘ask the expert’ in a brief discussion forum.


Hot topic 5 (15 min presentation + 10 min for questions)
When and how to choose and commence an SSRI: adults
Speaker: Scientia Professor Philip Mitchell

The decision of whether an SSRI is indicated for adults and how to select then commence an appropriate agent will be reviewed. Informed consent, monitoring, and alternative or complementary interventions will all be broached. This will be followed by an opportunity to ‘ask the expert’ in a brief discussion forum.

17:30 Finish
Download the programme here Register here
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