Australia called to look after its mental health

One in five Australians is affected by mental illness annually, with many more impacted by the recent bushfire crisis and current Covid-19 pandemic.

On Saturday, World Mental Health Day, the theme was, “Look after your mental health, Australia.”

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is taking stock to recognise the important relationship between a person affected by mental illness, their pharmacist and health care team.

Acting PSA President Michelle Lynch acknowledged government’s $5.7 billion investment into mental health during this week’s budget, which paves the way for pharmacists to play a greater role in the delivery of mental healthcare in Australia.

“A majority of Australians visit their pharmacist around 14 times a year and as trusted and accessible health professionals pharmacists often come in contact with patients suffering mental ill-health,” she said.

“Enabling pharmacists to recognise potential signs and symptoms of mental ill-health as well as support patients and refer on to GPs or emergency care has the potential to not only improve outcomes but potentially save lives.”

In response to the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Mental Health, PSA says engaging pharmacists in the delivery of mental health care in Australia will lead to earlier intervention, improved treatment outcomes and a reduction in medication harms.

PSA made five key recommendations to the Productivity Commission, which included developing and implementing regular reviews for people with mental ill-health, incorporating pharmacogenomic testing, integrating pharmacists in suicide prevention strategies and supporting pharmacists on the front lines who come into contact with people with mental ill-health.

Ms Lynch said there was an opportunity to better use the skills of pharmacists to improve the use of medicines for mental ill-health by integrating pharmacists into multidisciplinary mental healthcare teams as well as support early detection and intervention for a patient in a mental health crisis