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Pharmacists receive mental health first aid training today

Bec Rogers-National Pharmacies Chief Pharmacist

Pharmacists and pharmacy staff at National Pharmacies will start to receive mental health training from today through a state government-first program aimed at easing pressure on hospital emergency departments.

National Pharmacies is investigating opportunities to also provide mental health first aid training to pharmacy staff at its stores in Victoria and New South Wales.

“Community pharmacies like ours are increasingly becoming the frontline access point of health care for many Australians, so we do believe local pharmacists have a role in supporting customers impacted by mental illness,” said National Pharmacies Chief Pharmacist Bec Rogers.

The mental health training initiative is part of a $350,000 state government-funded training program for community pharmacists and pharmacy staff to help address local mental health needs and assist South Australians accessing care outside of an ED.

Ms Rogers said National Pharmacies employed more than 550 pharmacists and pharmacy staff across three states, with the first 20 in South Australia to receive mental health training from this month to help support people experiencing mental ill health, including referral to other services in SA.

“The mental health first aid training will help our pharmacists and pharmacy staff to understand the signs and symptoms of mental ill health, as well as learning practical skills to support people experiencing a mental health problem,” said Ms Rogers.

“We do believe that pharmacists hold a unique position in our communities to help Australians receive the care they need outside of an ED setting, which can be a delayed and stressful experience due to rising mental health service demand post-COVID.

“Pharmacists cannot replace mental health experts but they can start the conversation customers might need in order to get help before a crisis point is reached and more acute treatment is needed.”

Ms Rogers said more National Pharmacies pharmacy staff would be trained under the scheme over the next two years. 

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