The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia – in partnership with mental health consumers, carers and care coordinators, mental health policy and practice experts and health professionals – has released a mental health framework which highlights and promotes the expertise of pharmacists and the roles they undertake as partners in mental health care.
National President of the PSA, Grant Kardachi, said the framework was intended to be used to articulate current and explore future pharmacist roles as partners to enhance mental health care service delivery to Australian consumers and carers.
“This framework will be used to engage with a variety of audiences including consumers, carers, mental health care organisations, health care practitioners and governments to promote the role of the pharmacist as a partner in the delivery of mental health care,” he said.
“While pharmacists recognise that medicines are not necessarily the primary or sole treatment option for mental illnesses, the 31.1 million mental health-related prescriptions in Australia in 2010-11, comprising 11% of all medicines subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, reflect that they are a significant modality of treatment.
“Of these, 86% of medicines were prescribed by general practitioners rather than psychiatrists. These figures emphasise the need and opportunity for pharmacist involvement in mental health care.” Mr Kardachi said the framework focused on how pharmacists’ skills and experience could be used to improve quality use of medicines for consumers with a mental illness.
“Pharmacists have a strong primary health care role and, due to their accessibility, are often the first health professional contacted by a consumer with a health concern,” he said.
“Pharmacists are frequently consulted for advice on psychotropic medications and their accessibility and frequent contact with mental health consumers and carers means they are ideally placed to play a greater role in the management of mental illness or conditions.”
Mr Kardachi said the development of the framework was a collegiate effort and acknowledged the generous and collaborative contributions by individual experts and nominees of the following organisations: Australian College of Mental Health Nurses; Australian General Practice Network; Australian Psychological Society; Mental Health Council of Australia; Pharmaceutical Society of Australia; Pharmacy Board of Australia; The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists; The Pharmacy Guild of Australia; and The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia.