Medicine safety: Mental health care report

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The evidence presented in this report makes the undeniable case that people living with a mental health condition and taking medicines need better access to the expertise of pharmacists across the whole spectrum of care.

The sixth edition of PSA’s flagship Medicine Safety series, Medicine Safety: Mental Health Care report highlights opportunities for pharmacists to better support Australians using medicines to treat mental health conditions, including improving access to care and investing in quality use of medicines services at critical points of care.


The lived experiences detailed in the Medicine Safety report show that in many cases the unmanaged adverse effects of mental health medicines are harming patients. Concerningly, the impact of these adverse effects cause people to abandon treatment altogether.


Key report stats:


  • People with severe mental health conditions have poorer physical health than the general community and have a 12–16 year shorter life expectancy.
  • 18% of Australians use medicines to treat a mental health condition.
  • Antidepressants were involved in 31% of medicine-related deaths due to overdose, and antipsychotics in 17% of medicine-related deaths due to overdose.
  • 1 in 4 Australians are taking a medicine that would not be recommended for them based on the individual genetic variation of their drug metabolising enzymes.
  • Medicine changes are frequent in mental health facilities, with an average of 10 changes per admission.
  • Over 40% of mental health facilities do not have any pharmaceutical handover at discharge.
Supported by PDL

PSA would like to acknowledge the financial support provided by Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL) for PSA’s Medicine Safety series. PDL membership facilitates professional indemnity insurance and risk management advice for most of the Australian pharmacy profession. In these roles, PDL recognises the need to support the profession and set the standards for medicine safety through the development of the Medicine Safety series. PDL encourages all pharmacists to utilise the Medicine Safety resources in their practice and their representation of the profession to the public.

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