How pharmacists can help mental health

The Victorian Government has promised to hold a Royal Commission into mental health should it be re-elected in November

The announcement, made at a press conference at a Kyneton Men’s Shed, has been welcomed by the Pharmacy Guild, which said pharmacists can have a key role in helping Australians manage their mental health.

Mr Andrews said that Victoria did not have the best mental health system possible, the ABC reports.

“Only when a person is in real crisis do they get tailored individual help,” he said.

“We have a system that simply can’t cope and will continue to contribute to tragedy if we don’t have a royal commission and seek those answers, make that reform, drive that change and show that leadership.”

Also speaking at the event was Bob Grubb, who said that his grandson’s 2001 suicide “just killed our family” and praised the role of Men’s Sheds in helping him get through the crisis.

The Royal Commission would address early intervention and better support for families.

The Guild’s Victorian branch said the announcement underlines the ongoing commitment to improving health care outcomes displayed by the Andrews Government.

“This is an important and very welcome commitment to addressing the anguish, pain, chronic disability and death that is resulting from mental health issues far too frequently across our community,” said its president, Anthony Tassone.

“Pharmacists are an increasingly important part of our community’s response to mental health issues. As medicine experts, pharmacists also have a vital role in providing advice to people on medications to help manage mental health conditions such as depression.

“As the most frequently accessed health destination, community pharmacies are ideally placed to recognise potential early signs or symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions.

“Clearly pharmacists have a relationship with their patients and they get to know them very well over time,” Mr Tassone said.

“Being able to walk in off the street and speak to a health professional who understands the issues and who can provide advice or referral is very important.”

Because more than 80% of people use the same pharmacy regularly, pharmacists are often able to recognise changes in behaviour or mood, he said.

The Guild said it looks forward to making a contribution to such a Royal Commission.

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