The role of the general practitioner must first be set into a context. It would be short-sighted to launch immediately into describing the challenge of mental health problems only as they are presented in a doctor’s consulting room. They exist in homes and working places. People do not always consult doctors. The responses now used by general practitioners are not the only ones possible; those used by others could suggest directions in which general practitioners’ roles should develop. The introduction therefore sets the context by considering the extent and nature of mental health problems as they are seen through population surveys…more