Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist April 2016 Contents COVER
‘ The pharmacy ensures the patient’s
medication compliance, investigates
any sleep disorders and provides
‘Our Mental Health Module looks at
every mental illness sufferer as a whole.
‘ To optimise the service even further
we hired a registered counsellor to join
our team and the counselling room was
modified to enable private counselling
‘ The friendly, approachable atmosphere
and advantages of inter-professional
collaboration ensure the service is used
to its full potential.’
Mr Afsar said that customers were now
referred if the pharmacist believed they
would benefit from cognitive therapy.
‘We believe this will open new
opportunities within the pharmacy
profession because pharmacists can ask
R U OK? Every day,’ he said.
Spending on mental health services
in Australia hit $8 billion in 2013-14
– the equivalent of $344 per person
across the population – according to the
report Mental Health Services in Australia,
released by the Australian Institute of
Health and Welfare (AIHW) in February.
It found that, adjusted for inflation,
the funding from the Australian
Government for mental health-related
services increased on average by 4.7%
annually over the period 2009-10 to
2013-14. Funding from state and territory
governments also increased over the same
period, but by a smaller average annual
Over this period pharmacy involvement in
mental health support has also increased.
Former PSA Vice President Dr Claire
O’Reilly, whose PhD focussed on mental
health, told Australian Pharmacist that
she had observed a growing interest from
community pharmacists in becoming more
involved in the area of mental health.
‘I think there is increasing recognition from
both within and outside the pharmacy
profession that pharmacists play an
important role as part of the primary
mental healthcare team,’ Dr O’Reilly said.
‘ This has been highlighted by
recommendations in the National Mental
Health Commission’s review of mental
health services to “Introduce incentives to
include pharmacists as key members of
the mental healthcare team.”
‘ We have also seen Mental Health First
Aid (MHFA) Australia recognise the
importance of training pharmacists in
the area by the recent development of a
tailored MHFA for Pharmacy program.’
Since 2009 more than 600 pharmacists
have completed the Pharmaceutical
Society of Australia’s mental Health First
Aid Training course.
Dr O’Reilly said: ‘ The majority of
pharmacists who come along to training
programs report seeing people with
mental health problems on a daily basis
in their pharmacies and recognise the
need for them to improve their skills in
how to communicate and to understand
ways they can better support people
living with a mental illness.
‘I see mental health first aid skills as a core
example of an important primary health
care role that community pharmacists
play on a daily basis.’
One pharmacist Australian Pharmacist
spoke believes mental health first aid
‘should be mandatory like normal first aid
training.’ (see page 31).
The cost of mental health*
• In 2013–14, the Australian Government
spent an estimated $971 million in
benefits for Medicare-subsidised
mental health-related services – this
equated to one in 20 (5%) of all
• An estimated $753 million was spent
on subsidised prescriptions under the
Pharmaceutical Benefits ]Scheme/
Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits
Scheme (making up 8.1% of all PBS/
• Expenditure on psychologist services
made up the largest component
of mental health-related Medicare
• Prescriptions for antipsychotics and
antidepressants accounted for the
majority of mental health-related
PBS/RPBS expenditure during this
period (57% and 36%, respectively).
*from: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Mental Health Services in Australia, Feb 2016.
AN INCREASING FOCUS ON MENTAL HEALTH
BY ANDREW DANIELS
Swarup Afsar of Pharmacy 777 Nollamara in Perth
‘It is under-serviced in community
pharmacy and this is a glaring oversight
as pharmacists are pivotal in healthcare,’
‘By encouraging simple conversations and
recording customer progress, pharmacists
observed changes very quickly and
these included increased confidence
and rapport, as well as positive lifestyle
changes in mental health patients.
‘ When we designed our Mental Health
Protocol, we went to see eight GPs in the
local area along with two psychiatrists.
‘ This consultation resulted in us
promoting compliance checks more
consistently and helping patients seek
cognitive behavioural therapies such as
counselling and hypnotherapy.
Australian Pharmacist April 2016 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
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