Resources empower people with mental illness

New resources released by the NSW Mental Health Commission this month will empower people with mental illness and their families to discuss medication issues with their health professionals.

A postcard-size discussion guide developed by the Mental Health Commission of NSW aims to help people feel more confident and informed about medications used to treat mental illness. It will be distributed to communities across NSW via more than 2,000 pharmacies and neighbourhood centres in February 2017. Supporting video resources are available online.

“Many people, particularly those seeking treatment for mental health conditions, can find talking to a health professional confusing or even a bit intimidating,” said NSW Mental Health Commissioner John Feneley.

The postcard provides a discussion guide with questions for people to ask their doctor, pharmacist or other health professional. Topics covered include alternative treatment options, side effects, costs, opportunities to participate in prescribing decisions, whether medication will assist them to achieve their recovery goals.

It is also a reminder to share relevant information with professionals such as details of other medication use, previous experience with medications for mental illness, and social and financial factors that could affect their medication use.

“Medication is one of many important factors that can support recovery,” Mr Feneley said.

“However, fully understanding all of the related issues, like side effects, the impact of combining medications and what alternatives are available, is essential.”

The Commission developed the postcard and video resources following the findings of its Medication and mental illness: Perspectives paper, released in December 2015. Based on analysis of over 200 submissions, including from people who have experienced mental illness and clinicians, the paper emphasised the need to change prescribing practices to better meet the needs of people with mental illness and their families.