The Mental Health and Community Pharmacy Project is funded by the Australian
Government Department of Health as part of the Fifth Community
Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program managed by the
Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

Exploring the role of community pharmacy to support mental health consumers and their carers

Project Background

Community pharmacies play an important role in supporting the needs of consumers, who have described pharmacies as a more relaxed place than the doctor’s surgery to obtain information about their treatment. Consumers also see pharmacists as medicines experts who use more consumer friendly language than doctors when providing treatment information. Pharmacists and pharmacy assistants therefore may require education and strategies to support the different needs, expectations and experiences of consumers with illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

Project Objectives

The project team will work with mental health consumers, carers and community pharmacies to develop a comprehensive educational package for pharmacists and pharmacy assistants. The package will be designed to increase the understanding of pharmacy staff of the experience of mental illness and their skills for supporting consumers and carers. The project will also develop and trial strategies to assist people with mental illness to better manage their medications.


We need to recruit 300 pharmacies from Queensland, Northern New South Wales and Western Australia to participate in the project, which will take place in three stages over three years.

Stage One involved a needs assessment to inform the development of the educational package. This stage included:

  • in-depth, semi-structured, individual or focus group interviews with mental health consumers, carers, service providers (such as GPs and nurses) as well as other health stakeholders to explore medication needs, expectations and possible supports;
  • interviews with 500 mental health consumers and carers within 72 hours of a pharmacy visit to gather information of their views of the support they received;
  • survey of the learning needs, skills, knowledge and beliefs of pharmacy staff about mental health.

Stage Two  focused on delivering and evaluating the educational package for pharmacy staff. This stage included:

  • piloting the educational package for pharmacy staff in a face-to-face workshop;
  • developing on-line education modules for pharmacy staff;
  • evaluating the on-line training effectiveness with a second learning assessment;
  • consumer and carer interviews gauging any changes in their views of the services they receive after pharmacy staff training;
  • refinement of the on-line modules based on the information from the evaluation and consumer and carer interviews.

Stage Three will develop and pilot a strategy for community pharmacists to assist mental health consumers with their medication requirements. The aim of this stage is to develop an intervention plan to enhance adherence and partnerships in the community setting. This will include:

  • recruitment of 100 pharmacies involved in Stages One and Two;
  • development of an intervention strategy and training package;
  • face-to-face training for the 100 participating pharmacists;
  • mentoring of pharmacists to work with consumers, their carers and GPs about their medication;
  • evaluation and refinement of the intervention strategy.

Overall, the outcomes of the project will be an improved knowledge, skills and resources to better support mental health consumers and carers in the community.

If you would like to take part, or for further information, please Freecall
1800 600 687 or email:

The project is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health as part of the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement Research and Development Program managed by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia. Ethics approval has been obtained from the Griffith University Human Research Ethics Committee (PHM/13/11/HREC).

The researchers involved are: Prof Amanda Wheeler, Prof Andrew Davey, Dr Laetitia Hattingh, Dr Jasmina Fejzic, Dr Jane Fowler and Dr Fiona Kelly.