Community pharmacy assists mental health

Improving the role of the local pharmacy to meet the needs of people with mentalillness is the aim of anational research project at Griffith.

Following a $2.1m federal grant, the Griffith research team launched the MentalHealth and Community Pharmacy Projectthrough the Pharmacy Guild ofAustralia.

Aligned with the Australian Government’s focus on mental health as a National
Health Priority Area, the project provides online tuition for pharmacy staff to
improve their skills in assisting mental health consumers to better manage their

To develop the materials for the training, a Mental Health and Community
Pharmacy Workshop was held at Griffith in July. The day allowed pharmacy staff
to learn from a local hospital psychiatrist, and listen to the views of consumers,
carers, pharmacists and mental health consumer consultants.

The training is now in a pilot stage across Queensland, WA and Northern NSW
with about 600 pharmacy staff.

Project leader Professor Amanda Wheeler said the research and the online
training will significantly increase the role of the community pharmacy when
working with people with mental health problems.

“This training is very much about the communication role between pharmacy staff
and the consumer,” she said. “For example, just improving awareness and
knowledge around issues such as stigma and privacy and the side effects of
some of the medications can be highly beneficial in meeting these consumers’
“This research will also potentially capitalise on current consumer opinion that hasdescribed the community pharmacy as a more relaxed environment for

consumers — one where information about treatment and other services can be
freely discussed.”
“Consumers and carers have helped shape this research from its conception,”
said Andrew Blythe, consumer consultant. “They have looked at real-life
experiences and those of their colleagues and friends and said to the project team
‘this is how we wish we’d been treated when we used a community pharmacy’.”
To date the research team has spoken with over 300 consumers and carers about
their needs and pharmacy experience prior to the training. The team will continue
to interview them after the training to measure any practice change.

The final stage of the Mental Health and Community Pharmacy Project will
commence in January next year when the team will train pharmacy staff to help
them support consumers with medication management.

To find out more about the project and how you can become involved please visit