Caro Swanson reflects on her presentation at the Rotorua GP CME 2018 conference.

I recently had the privilege of presenting on “Equally Well, together we are making a difference” to the GPCME afternoon mental health plenary session. It was heartening to see the level of interest from GPs in the area of supporting people with their mental health and addiction needs.  

My presentation covered briefly:

  • the issues
  • the contributors to the issues
  • the creation of the Equally Well collaborative
  • the sorts of things happening now that are making a difference.  

As I reflected on how far we have come in four short years, I felt SO hopeful, and SO grateful for the passion, diligence and focus that people from all paths have put into beginning to rectify the problems. 

Among other things, I gave ‘hot off the press’ news of the launch of the first project of the Equally Well prescribing toolkit which had happened that week.

I was also able to encourage GPs to look at the NZ Doctor ‘How to treat’ article: Co-morbidity in mental health and addiction, a really useful resource. The importance of the relationship between clinician and person, and the impact of that on outcomes cannot be underestimated, our GPs can be the person we see most consistently. 

Finally I finished with a perspective of a different Heal(ing) system that included:

  • positive algorithms, not just dire ones
  • the impact of positive life-affirming changes
  • the need for loads more non-pharmaceutical options
  • community healing centres that include physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, cultural and social health solutions. 

Other presentations included Doing better with depressed/anxious patients (Bruce Arroll); Strategies to prevent recurrence of depression (Rob Shieff); Weird but common sleep disorders (Tony Fernando); Ketamine therapy for treatment-resistant depression a new GP Model (Caleb Armstrong) and Assessment of suicide (Chris Kenedi). 

Together we really DO make a difference.