Health watchdog NICE has published new guidance to help spot signs of depression and anxiety.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) issued the guidance after research found one in six adults suffers from a mental health condition such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
The guidance will help health professionals to better detect these conditions along with panic disorder, social anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which are also believed to be largely under-diagnosed.
Experts said there was not enough evidence to suggest screening the whole patient population but the patient should be asked simple questions if they suspect somebody is struggling.
Patients may also be asked if they are unable to stop or control worrying thoughts, possibly indicating an anxiety disorder.
Health professionals should also consider asking people who may have depression two questions: During the last month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless? During the last month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
If the patient says 'yes', then the doctor is likely to ask further detailed questions.
Research suggests only about 30% of people with depression are identified in GP surgeries, with another 30% never coming forward for help.
"At 384 pages in this guidance I suspect most people will extract only overall detail although I'm sure we all recognise that common MH problems are becoming more prominent... Having some basic assessment skills and knowing how to signpost and refer people for the right kind of help is crucial for frontline nurses...pages 234 to 256 offer some key messages on mgt including access to servies, stepped care, identification and assessment, treatment, referring on and developing local care pathways - well worth taking a few bullet points from these pages I suggest to assist in one's own common MH presentation mgt plan" - George Coxon, Devon
"We are learning more about mental health such as ME. How are people able to survive in a atmosphere of being thought of as a fraud and government chasing them for interviews to keep their benefits? The majority of ME patients probably have over worked and have paid into the goverment's coffers. Should they and all other disabled people be given a chance and not punished for not being 'well'" - Lisa Kitchen, Leeds