Mental health pharmacy trial set to start soon

The Bridging the Gap between Physical and Mental Illness in Community Pharmacy (PharMIbridge) trial is set to begin in a few months.

The research project which aims at enhancing the way pharmacies work with and assist people with mental illnesses is co-led by pharmacy and mental health researchers Professor Amanda Wheeler from Griffith University and Dr Claire O’Reilly from The University of Sydney.

The study focuses on individualised medicine support, adherence and mental and physical wellbeing for people living with severe and persistent mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar and severe depression.

The National President of the Pharmacy Guild, George Tambassis, says community pharmacists are playing an increasingly important role in the area of mental health.

“As the most accessible of all health professionals, community pharmacists are often the first people mental health patients turn to for help and advice.

“Many pharmacists have undergone additional training to help them identify patients who may be living with mental illness.

“Pharmacists also are critical in helping patients adhere to their medicine regimens to ensure they get best possible outcomes from the medicines they have been prescribed.

“This project is an exciting and important initiative to broaden the role of pharmacists in helping patients with mental illness.”

Pharmaceutical Society of Australia National President Associate Professor Chris Freeman said as medicines experts, pharmacists play a vital role in treating mental illness in the community.

“Medicines are an important component of treatment for people living with mental illness which is why pharmacists, as medicines experts, have a critical role to play, however that should not limit our role,” he says.

“Pharmacists serve as a critical element in the healthcare team, working with patients to manage their conditions, often as a conduit to other services, an advocate for the person, or to lend a compassionate ear.”

The RCT will be conducted in four study regions: Hunter New England and Northern Sydney regions in NSW, Gippsland region in Victoria, and ACT.

Participating community pharmacies will be remunerated to support training attendance and to deliver either the PharMIbridge (intervention) or study funded MedsCheck (comparator) service.

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