World news – AU – stress test


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Even in normal times, many people turn to the pharmacy for help with general mental health problems, but the incidence of stress, anxiety, depression and depression is higher social isolation due to the COVID crisis has led to people needing support and advice.

Relatively early in the pandemic, a Swinburne University survey found people were more stressed, anxious, and depressed than they were before the COVID hit. Aussies reported three times more negative feelings and emotions during the first few days of social isolation than in a survey from the previous year. And people with existing mental illnesses fared worse – and reported having up to five times more negative feelings than before.

While another study that analyzed what was searched for on the internet found searches for symptoms of stress, it was up 4500%. .

Not surprisingly, a national survey of more than 100 pharmacists showed an increase in the number of people seeking professional advice on issues such as stress management and sleep.

More than 60% of pharmacists saw an increase in demand for help with sleep management, and more than half (54%) reported an increase in requests for help to improve mood or manage anxiety.

Priceline said the majority of inquiries were from people aged 30 to 40, suggesting that young families were the most under pressure. Half of the requests for help were directly related to the social and economic pressures of COVID.

Priceline said the results, which are in line with research by The Lab & Nature, showed that a combination of not seeing friends, economic and occupational safety, and less social interaction due to COVID had a negative impact on nearly half all Australians had.

This dire picture was underscored by a national survey conducted in the first month of COVID restrictions, which found that mental health problems were at least twice as common as before the pandemic, especially among populations directly affected. In the first month of restrictions, clinically significant depressive and generalized anxiety symptoms, the thought of being better off or of self-harm and irritability were at least twice as high as in non-COVID populations.

The most vulnerable people had lost their jobs, lived alone or in areas with poor resources, or cared for dependent family members, were members of marginalized minorities – and women or youth. The researchers called for stronger public health responses beyond public health reporting, as well as improved clinical interventions.

Previous clinical interventions and the involvement of pharmacists in mental health care in Australia will result in improved patient outcomes and a reduction in drug harm, the PSA stressed on World Mental Health Day in October.

The PSA said the majority of people who visit their pharmacists about 14 times a year see many people facing mental health problems and offer psychological counseling and support.

« The ability for pharmacists to identify potential signs and symptoms of mental illness, as well as to support patients and contact a GP or emergency care, can improve health outcomes and potentially save lives, » said Michelle Lynch, acting president of the PPE.

Ms. Lynch said there is an opportunity to make better use of the skills of pharmacists to improve the use of mental illness drugs by integrating pharmacists on a multidisciplinary mental health team and a patient in the mental health field Crisis is recognized early and intervened.

She noted that PSA recently conducted government-funded first aid and mental health training for pharmacists and pharmacy workers in bushfire-hit areas in support of communities affected by the 2019-20 bushfires , being pharmacists often the first port of call for many people with mental illness.

She said the feedback indicated that there is a clear need to train pharmacists as the prevalence of mental health problems increases – as seen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response to the Mental Health Productivity Commission’s draft report, the PSA made five recommendations that had the potential to make better use of pharmacists’ mental health skills.

The final report of the productivity commission is expected to be published before the end of the year.

Elise Apolloni, managing partner of award-winning capital chemist Wanniassa, ACT, has made a name for herself as someone who is truly passionate about improving the mental health of all Australians.

After losing a colleague and friend to suicide in 2015, she used the skills she gained from specialty postgraduate studies to educate and shape how the pharmacy responds to mental health, including: developing healthier strategies for mental health in the workplace as well as a range of innovative patient services in the field of mental health.

Five years after losing her colleague, Ms. Apolloni has made sure that the team has the tools to deal with a patient with a mental crisis or to speak to someone who is dealing with a mental health problem. All employees are required to undergo mental health first aid training as soon as possible – and the business is re-accredited every three years.

“All employees are trained – including our employees outside the pharmacy, as the assistants are often the ones who try. The training really provides a toolkit for staff to make them more comfortable talking to patients about mental health. It can be a difficult subject for many people who worry they will say the wrong thing. However, the training provides the tools to develop the skills to ask questions about suicide, for example.

As pharmacists, we are excellent at asking questions about health problems – that is part of our professional duty. But I don’t think we generally always have the skills for this type of conversation when we leave college. For this reason, Mental First Aid training can help with the tools to deal with quite complex situations – even if someone suffers from psychosis and how to help them under these circumstances, ”said Ms. Apolloni.

« [As pharmacists] we have become aware of many of the emotional and social issues faced by people with mental health problems, and I think this leads us to approach things a little differently and more sensitively when dealing with mental health problems in the. » pharmacy. When someone introduces a mental health drug to our store, we take them for a private consultation.

It is a very natural process when we print out the information brochure in the consultation room as opposed to the main area. It is really important to create a safe space where people feel, if they want, they can tell how they are feeling or are a little bit upset. Sometimes the advice goes well and it’s just a normal interaction.

But we always make sure people are really comfortable and we make the process as friendly and smooth as possible, ”she said.

“Also, make sure people are aware of the additional support that is available, not just for medication, but also for speaking therapy support groups and other services around us that may not be the focus of attention when entering the pharmacy. “Mrs. Apolloni said.

In the unusual circumstances of COVID, collaboration and a systematic plan to manage staff, workflow and levels of care was critical to reducing stress in the pharmacy, she said.

« We have all been stressed and some people can handle it on their own and some show it very externally. And when people are frustrated with our employees, it can also be helpful to remember that they are not addressed to them personally. But from our point of view it was mostly fine, but I know some colleagues in other areas who have had some tough times. But we were also pretty sure to explain to them that we have a zero tolerance policy for abusive behavior towards employees.

Elise Apolloni believed that the behavior could have been more a case of people trying to organize.

“In the beginning it was difficult until the government stepped in and regulated how much medication can be dispensed at a given time. It was difficult at first because we wanted to make sure everything was evenly distributed among all of our patients so that nobody would miss anything. But I think things are much calmer now and people understand that they are going to get their medication and there is no need to have a lot of it at home because it just puts pressure on the supply chain.

We also have contactless delivery and can deliver to someone’s home so they don’t have to store. We saw our home deliveries increase a lot, which was good for us as it helped us manage our workflow during busy times. ”

“We changed the workflow, trying to minimize the number of people who might touch things on the shelves when walking through the pharmacy, as well as changing the protocols for signing scripts.

« In the early days of the pandemic, we did split-shifts to reduce the risk of transmission, but that became very stressful for our members over time. It’s hard not to see the whole team. You don’t really realize how much added value you get from working in person with your entire team, even if it’s just about crossovers, be it constant contact and connectedness, or just hearing what’s going on in your life. So it was good to be able to regroup at some point after things calmed down. ”

“What we have experienced this year shows that the pharmacy is once again facing the challenge – no matter how it presents itself. So if we need to arrange contactless delivery, we will make it possible. Build apps and prepayment options so people don’t touch cards or cash. We can also make this possible. I think the pharmacy has definitely tried to evolve to meet all of the challenges we’ve been given so far and we’ve done a pretty good job, ”she said.

The results of an ongoing national survey of more than 10. 000 health workers have experienced high levels of anxiety. 56% say they are “burned out” and 29% report depression.

Another survey of 255 healthcare workers conducted by Mental Health Australia found similar results. Four out of five respondents said that working during the pandemic increased stress and pressure in the workplace, even though nearly half of respondents had not received specific mental health support.

When asked more closely about the effects of COVID on mental health and well-being, 70% had persistent tiredness and exhaustion, 57% now have trouble falling or falling asleep, and 42% said they had mood swings or were overwhelmed. react when minor problems arise.

In the past six months, 28% reported reaching out to a trusted friend or family for mental health support and help. More than half of those surveyed said that their family and friends were extremely helpful.

The pharmacist support service has seen a sharp increase in the number of calls received.

From July 2019 to June 2020, almost 400 calls were received from pharmacists, interns, students or affected friends, family members and colleagues.

PSS executive director Kay Dunkley said during the first wave that the service’s total call numbers were 88% higher than at the same time last year. Many calls were made about the difficulties associated with the need for pharmacies to make significant changes to the way they work in a very short period of time.

« Furthermore, this change was unprecedented and limited guidance was available. Nobody knew what to expect and there were major concerns about the risk of infection and panic buying by customers and patients demanding multiple iterations, which put a strain on the supply chain, ”said Ms. Dunkley.

Fortunately, PSS was able to handle this huge surge in demand as it had trained a new group of volunteers in addition to its existing team by the end of 2019.

When the second wave hit Victoria, Ms. Dunkley said she had many systems in place by this point because the number of calls for help had not increased as much.

« Overall, our numbers are a bit higher than they were at the same time last year, and while we have received some calls about COVID, it is not nearly as many as during the first wave, » she said.

« There is a feeling that many callers are feeling worn out and tired as 2020 was a very tough year for everyone and bushfires followed so closely by COVID-19. The ongoing stress puts burnout pharmacists and pharmacy staff at risk and it is important that they focus on themselves, including taking a vacation break, even if we cannot travel overseas. We all need to remember that we need to take care of ourselves in order to take care of others – you can’t pour out of an empty cup, ”she added.

To help pharmacists with COVID, PSS has developed a series of webinars with the AJP and other stakeholders. The last one was carried out in collaboration with the R U OK ambassador Hockeyroo Rachael Lynch and the pharmacists Elise Apolloni and Erin Cooper.

« Our goal was to target pharmacists, interns and students in particular in the early career with messages of self-sufficiency and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health problems as pharmacy professionals and the wider public, » said Ms. Dunkley.

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World news – AU – Stress test
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