Industry stakeholders have welcomed the release of the Report of the National Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services by Minister Ley, which acknowledges the role for pharmacists in the mental healthcare team.
Community pharmacies, within reach of most Australians, are in an ideal position to support mental health, says the Pharmacy Guild.
“We look forward to working with Primary Health Networks and community groups to provide access and services that support the health of the community,” says a Guild spokesperson.
“Medicines can impact on mental health as well as being a treatment option prescribed by doctors. Medication advice and easy, timely access to health professionals when people need it are strengths of the community pharmacy network around Australia.”
The report highlights the need to promote easy access to self-help options to help people, their families and communities to support themselves and each other, and improve ease of navigation for stepping through the mental health system.
The Pharmacy Guild says it has been working closely with Mental Health Australia to advocate for community based support for Australians experiencing mental health concerns.
The report also recommends that incentives be introduced to include pharmacists as key members of the mental health care team.
The PSA also welcomed the report, particularly this recommendation.
National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, says the report reflects advocacy undertaken by the PSA which highlight the important role pharmacists can play in mental health.
“The report notes that pharmacists need to be a part of an integrated approach, working with GPs who are providing continuous follow-up care, and with other members of the multi-disciplinary team,” Kardachi says.
“Additionally, the report identifies the opportunities provided in the upcoming Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement, noting the agreement provides an ideal opportunity to put in place incentives that recognise and reward the role of community pharmacists in the treatment team.
“Pharmacists are pivotal in such teams as they are the most accessible of all health professionals and often the first health professional consulted by a person with mental health issues.”
He says that for too long the role pharmacists could play as part of the mental health team has been overlooked and the report should be the catalyst for change.
“It goes further to provide a particular focus on mental health and the mental health team, recognising that people with severe mental ill-health issues often are on multiple medications,” Kardachi says.
He acknowledged the work of former PSA Vice-President and Board member Dr Claire O’Reilly in the area of promoting the pharmacist’s role in mental health.
“Dr O’Reilly has worked tirelessly in addressing health professionals’ stigma to mental illness and in developing the role of the pharmacist as part of a multidisciplinary mental health care team.”