Getting the best out of mental health medicines


People who use mental health services provided by the Trust and their carers have taken part in a special medicines information event. Following the success of last year’s event the working together to get the best out of medicines event was organised by the Trust’s drug and therapeutics trust action group to help highlight what information is available regarding medicines prescribed for people with mental health problems.

The action group advise the Trust on policy related to appropriate use, availability and cost of medicines, related products and physical therapies to be used within the Trust. The group also monitors the entry of new medicines and therapies in the Trust with reference to the impact on patient care, safety and cost implications. This special information day was an opportunity to offer an update on the work that has taken place over the year in response to requests made by service users at last year’s event.

As a result of last year’s event a number of changes have been made by the Trust’s drug and therapeutics trust action group including the launch of the Choice and Medication website, which has now been rolled out to give staff across the Trust access to aid their discussions about medicines. This is also now available to staff in Barnsley. The website answers questions about medicines and different conditions. It is produced by independent pharmacists so provides completely neutral information. In the nine months to December 2011 the website received 1,443 visitors and 5,491 pages were viewed. The Trust still produces leaflets on medicines for people who don’t have access to the internet, but this is another way to improve access to information.

Work towards a helpline, which was suggested last year, has begun with the development of a business case. More news should be available on this in the next 6-12 months. A lot of work has also been carried out on wards and with teams to increase availability to different medication treatments. More work has also been done around discharge and access to information when people leave a service. This is a direct result of suggestions made last year.

As well as receiving news of changes in medicine attendees were able to share their views about medicines management. Attendees were also invited to take part in a series of workshops that aim to encourage group discussion about medicines.

Workshop topics covered were:

  • Experiences with medicines for memory and dementia
  • Experiences with medicines for mood disorders
  • Experiences with medicines for psychosis
  • Physical health and mental health medicines

A number of speakers including the Trust’s principle pharmacist Mubashshir Fazlee attended and medical director Dr Nisreen Booya made the opening address.

Dr Booya said, “This is the third medicines event to be held by us and they have proved to be very useful. A number of improvements have been made as a result of these and we hope to be able to do the same as a result of this latest event. The completed feedback forms and any comments placed in the boxes will be used to help shape the future of information and provision of medicines across the Trust.”

The most popular section on the Choices and Medication website is the frequently asked questions feature. This informed the basis for the first discussion by deputy chief pharmacist Kate Dewhirst and sought to provide details about concerns such as drinking alcohol while on medication and driving while taking medicines. Kate discussed the different risks posed by both and that each person should take care and seek advice as no two people are the same so the effects might differ from person to person.

The Trust’s principle pharmacist Mubashshir Fazlee spoke about The Right Prescription campaign, which is looking at reducing the use of antipsychotic medicines for people with dementia. The aim of the campaign is to support the Government’s work to reduce the use of the drugs by two thirds. Instead of prescribing medicines to treat the behavioural psychological symptoms of dementia the idea is that there should be more ‘watchful waiting’ and research into the reasons behind the behaviour in a more patient focussed approach. The Trust’s pharmacy team has developed tools and resources to help clinicians and other health professionals to bring people off antipsychotics safely and look for alternative treatments. The team have presented at different forums and provided training for over 400 local GPs. The team has received £20,000 from the Strategic Health Authority to help keep the campaign going and they will continue to encourage health professionals to engage families and carers, who can help guide what works best for people they know with dementia.

Dr Bipin Upadhyay also attended the event and presented his work on the power of music and how it helps in a number of ways looking at its healing qualities, music and movement and relaxing nature of music. He also talked about the ‘Mozart Effect’, which looks at the enhancement of performance or a change in the brain associated with listening to music, and got participants up and dancing.

Speaking about the event Kate Dewhirst said, “This was an ideal opportunity to find out information about medicines and learn more if their treatment plan includes prescribed medicine. We hope that it helped to alleviate any worries people might have had around medicines and that the members of the team who were available throughout the day were able to offer the necessary advice and practical support.”

Getting the best out of mental health medicines

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