Mental health and wellbeing: a doctor’s view

OneMedical Group’s Director of Development and Improvement, Dr Manjit Purewal, has been a GP in Yorkshire for over 20 years. Below, Manjit has shared his experiences in handling mental health in patients and his thoughts on how to improve mental health care.

“Nearly everyone will struggle with their emotional wellbeing at some point in their lives and the COVID19 pandemic has increased anxiety levels for many, causing isolation and loneliness on top of the worry of catching COVID and its impact. It’s very common to struggle with your mental health at some point – the difference is how we respond or cope with it. Some will ride it through, where others can find it extremely disabling and can be left feeling that they cannot cope. As a GP, I see lots of patients who may present with physical symptoms which are worrying them, but the real issue is their emotional wellbeing. Helping them understand that this is the cause of their symptoms is one of my roles as a GP.

The help people need with their emotional wellbeing varies. For some it can simply be a case of identifying the issue, whilst for others it may mean some form of talking therapy. Medication may be needed, but this is usually when things have become so had that the stressful situation has become a depressive illness.

Sadly, mental health issues are still a taboo subject, which means many people struggle to talk about it. They can feel fraudulent as there is nothing to see, which is very different to a physical illness. They may also feel judged – by health professions, their peers, family, friends, their employer. Many believe they can fix it themselves, and this can work for some, but it doesn’t for many.

Improving access to talking therapies is needed. Looking at alternative options such as digital solutions is also an option. However, we need to work with the person, believe them (remembering that we all deal with situations differently), show them empathy and help them identify the solutions which will help them.”