16 October 2011
The release of figures showing that 29 million prescriptions were dispensed last year for mental health-related conditions is a stark reminder of the key role that pharmacists can and should play in what is widely accepted to be one of the most significant health issues in Australia.
Pharmacists, who are often the first health professional seen by people suffering from a mental health condition, have long been on the front line in discussing issues with sufferers and helping them to seek further medical help and counselling.
National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, said pharmacists also usually saw patients more often that other health professionals, and provided a ‘walk-in’ service.
“Last week was Mental Health Week which focussed attention on the issue but pharmacists deal with patients suffering from mental health conditions 356 days a year. It is a constant part of the service they provide.
“At the moment, with the myriad new facilities and strategies being put in place, there is the potential for confusion as to where sufferers should be directed for further assistance, and what services and support are available and where,” Mr Kardachi said.
“PSA is helping pharmacists ensure patients get the best possible care by providing members with a range of support programs and initiatives.
“These include a Practice Support program to assist with 5CPA programs such as the Primary Health Care and Working with Others initiatives as well a snapshot document helping pharmacists to make the most of the 5CPA programs.
“PSA provides a Mental Health First Aid Course for pharmacists which gives them extra skills to help recognise symptoms and help sufferers.”
Vice-President Claire O’Reilly said PSA is also developing a Framework for Pharmacists as Members of the Mental Health Team which will help to upskill pharmacists and underpin their greater involvement in helping people with mental health illness.
“Pharmacists help people with mental illness 365 days a year and PSA is committed to seeing that these consumers get the best possible care and attention they can when talking to pharmacists, and that pharmacists have the resources and knowledge on hand to ensure that the patient is appropriately treated and referred to the appropriate health professionals as necessary.”
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