Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders in children and young people. However, despite the availability of evidence-based treatments, many children are not accessing the specialist services they need. General Practitioners are often the first port of call for families concerned about their child and play a crucial, “gate-keeper” role to accessing such services.
In order to better our understanding of why children are often not referred to specialist services, interviews were held with 20 GPs from a variety of locations in England, discussing their experience of managing childhood anxiety disorders. Emerging themes from these interviews suggest that that GPs experience numerous barriers including uncertainty around recognising anxiety in children, inadequate training, extensive waiting lists and difficulty accessing services. The results from this research will be used inform a further study, which will involve surveying a representative group of GPs, in order to quantify the barriers currently affecting GPs in England. The combination of the results from these studies will help to target areas of need which currently exist in primary care in order to improve access to evidence-based treatment for children with Anxiety Disorders.