Better use of medicines has a role in mental health care



The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia is urging the Government to tackle the challenge of improving the use of medicines in the treatment of mental ill health.


“Mental ill-health is a major health challenge in Australia and we welcome the Productivity Commission’s commitment in its Draft Report on Mental Health to improving prevention, detection and treatment,” Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President A/Prof Chris Freeman said.


“Unfortunately, what the draft report seems to overlook is the need for improved medicine safety practices and strategies for people with mental ill health and across mental health services.”


This is even more important given the recent announcement by the COAG Health Ministers that medicines safety and the quality use of medicines will be Australia’s 10th National Health Priority Area.


A report from the Australian Commission for Quality and Safety in Healthcare in 2017 identified consumers and carers need more personalised information about their medicines. Consumers and carers also expressed a need to be more engaged in shared decision making around treatment options, including the use of medicines.


Another finding is that monitoring of the effects and side effects of medicines is frequently inadequate, with confusion about the responsibilities of different clinicians contributing to the problem.


“We need to ensure we are using medicine as effectively as possible in the treatment of mental ill-health. For this reason, PSA does not think it is possible to look at mental health care without considering the safe and quality use of medicines,” A/Prof Freeman said.


“When a medicine is required, it is important that people with mental ill-health are prescribed the medicine most appropriate for them and their response and reaction to medicines is appropriately monitored and reviewed.


“PSA welcomes the funding for research into the use of pharmacogenomics announced by the Minister for Health recently and we expect the Productivity Commission to also explore how we can improve prescription and use of medicines in the treatment of mental ill-health.”


Announcing the investment recently, the Minister stated: “Although psychological strategies are the first-line of treatment, antidepressants and other drugs form an important part of the care provided. But only about half of patients have a positive response from their first medication prescription, and the response diminishes with subsequent alternatives.”


“PSA support this statement. Medicines have a role in mental health care and we must make sure they are used safely and effectively.


“Mental ill-health has a significant impact on individuals, their friends and families and the community as a whole,” A/Prof Freeman said.


“To really make strides towards reducing this burden and making a difference in the lives of the more than 10 million Australian adults, who will experience mental ill health at some point in their lives, we must examine all aspects of their health care including treatment – and the most appropriate treatment at some point may include medicines.


“PSA will be making a written submission calling on the Productivity Commission to include recommendations in its final report on improving the use of medicines in the treatment of mental ill-health.”


Media contact: PSA Media – 0487 922 176


Download the media release here