In Australia, general practitioners manage much of the anxiety and depression experienced by members of the community. SPHERE is a national depression project which aims to provide GPs with the opportunity to receive ongoing education and support in the identification, treatment and management of common mental disorders in primary care. SPHERE was launched in early 1998, as a collaborative enterprise between academic and clinical psychiatrists and GPs, and more than one thousand GPs have participated. The first training components of the project were provided free of charge to GPs.
This paper explains the need for mental health initiatives such as the SPHERE project, describes what SPHERE has found about how common anxiety and depressive disorders are managed in general practice, and outlines the way in which SPHERE supports GPs.