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Blooms The Chemist broadens community health scope, doubling down on Mental Health Check-ups

In line with its unwavering focus on community, Blooms The Chemist has further ramped up its mental health support services across over 110 pharmacies in Australia. The community pharmacy network introduced a dedicated Healthy Mind Check-up in October, enabling Australians to have confidential conversations with Pharmacists – the most easily accessible frontline healthcare workers – in times of need.

With federal and state governments ramping up support packages for mental health, Pharmacists across the network have spent over 660 hours training in Mental Health First Aid – developing in-depth knowledge around early intervention for issues including suicide, domestic violence, professional crises, the emotional imbalance caused by disturbed sleep, perinatal depression and anxiety, and more.

“COVID-19 brought Pharmacists’ integral role as primary community healthcare points of contact into sharp focus. Members of the community have been approaching our local Pharmacists with anxiety and confusion about mixed messages in the news, about everything from evolving telehealth models to staying safe as some states emerge from long lockdowns. Supporting them beyond the dispensary has been a key focus for us, and something we’re absolutely dedicated to strengthening,” shared Emmanuel Vavoulas, CEO-elect at Blooms The Chemist.

One pharmacy located in the epicentre of the second lockdown’s harshest restrictions, Blooms The Chemist Padstow, has been on the frontline – not only as one of the first pharmacies to be administering COVID-19 vaccines to the community, but also providing mental health advice through its Healthy Mind Check-ups.

Pharmacist-Owner at Blooms the Chemist Padstow, David Tran, says they have seen a spike in people taking up the Healthy Mind Check-ups in line with the extended second lockdown. One poignant example of the support his pharmacy has been providing to local customers is a mum of four who came in asking for pain relief treatment.

“She kept coming in for the same items, with high frequency, and we realised it was a more complex issue that she was going through. After a conversation with her, I found out the stress of home-schooling, work, restricted travel, and fear of going out to buy goods and bringing a potential infection home to her unvaccinated family was causing her huge tension. It had created a pain in her ribs, which further exacerbated the situation.

“In this case, we gave her an under-the-tongue vitamin spray that relieved her tension and really helped her condition in the longer term. I think what was even more welcome for her was the fact that she knew she had someone else she could lean on for support, someone else to talk to,” shared David Tran.

Further mental health training is being rolled out across Blooms the Chemist stores nationally as part of the Healthy Mind Check-ups and increased demand from patients. This involves virtual training sessions available for teams, addressing different mental health concerns, and showcasing health products that may assist patients. The network has also continued to work with its charity partner, Gidget Foundation Australia, providing Pharmacists and pharmacy team members the opportunity to learn more about the signs of perinatal depression and anxiety in patients, and how to address the sensitive topic while leading patients to further help and resources.

One in six Australians are currently experiencing a mental health condition and the local Pharmacist is sometimes the most accessible health professional for people who need immediate advice. This Mental Health Month and beyond, Australians are encouraged to speak to their local Pharmacist if they are struggling mentally and to take advantage of the resources on offer.

“You don’t have to know your local Pharmacist to have an open conversation; whether we know you or not, know you’re not alone. We may not be able to provide all the answers upfront, but we can do our best to find appropriate support and contacts during challenging times,” continued David Tran.

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