Prof. Frederick Sundram

University of Auckland, New Zealand

Featured Speech: A National Study of the Mental Health Literacy of Community Pharmacists in New Zealand

Prof Frederick Sundram
Department of Psychological Medicine
University of Auckland
New Zealand

Biography:

I am an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland and a Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at North Shore Hospital, Waitemata DHB. I was a research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland where I completed my PhD in Neuroimaging. I have a Masters in Healthcare Management and a Masters in Healthcare Informatics. I am the vice-chair of the RANZCP National Faculty of Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry. My research interests include mood disorders, neuroimaging, neuropsychopharmacology, self-harm/suicide, medical education, overlap between medicine and psychiatry, and digital health.

University profile webpage: https://profiles.auckland.ac.nz/f-sundram

Abstract:

Background: Community pharmacists are in a prime position to communicate with and assist those with mental health needs. However, mental health literacy, which includes beliefs and knowledge of mental health conditions, can impact the provision of pharmacy services. The mental health literacy of community pharmacists in New Zealand is currently unknown.

Objectives: To assess the mental health literacy of community pharmacists in New Zealand.

Methods: We employed a national cross-sectional online survey, evaluating attitudes towards mental illness, ability to recognise depression using a vignette and followed by questions related to the helpfulness of various interventions, and willingness to provide pharmacy services for people with mental illness in comparison to cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, opportunities for mental health training were explored. Participants were community pharmacists working in New Zealand contacted via mailing lists of professional bodies.

Results: We received responses from 346 participants. The majority of participants showed positive attitudes towards mental illness and correctly identified depression in the vignette (87%). Participants rated counsellors (84%) and physical activity (92%) as the most helpful professionals and intervention respectively while only 43% considered antidepressants as helpful for depression. When compared to other people in the community, long-term functioning of the individual described in the vignette was rated poorly, especially in terms of increased likelihood to attempt suicide (85%) and reduced likelihood to be a productive worker (64%). Approximately 30% of participants reported reduced confidence/comfort while approximately half of participants reported greater interest in providing mental health-related care compared to cardiovascular disease. The participants also highlighted several areas for future mental health training they wished to undertake.

Conclusions: We have identified positive attitudes towards mental illness in our study. Participants correctly identified and supported evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate depression. However, we highlighted the need for ongoing mental health training to address knowledge gaps and enhance the confidence in providing mental health-related care.

Abstract

Prof. Frederick Sundram

Background: Community pharmacists are in a prime position to communicate with and assist those with mental health needs. However, mental health literacy, which includes beliefs and knowledge of mental health conditions, can impact the provision of pharmacy services. The mental health literacy of community pharmacists in New Zealand is currently unknown.

Objectives: To assess the mental health literacy of community pharmacists in New Zealand.

Methods: We employed a national cross-sectional online survey, evaluating attitudes towards mental illness, ability to recognise depression using a vignette and followed by questions related to the helpfulness of various interventions, and willingness to provide pharmacy services for people with mental illness in comparison to cardiovascular diseases. Additionally, opportunities for mental health training were explored. Participants were community pharmacists working in New Zealand contacted via mailing lists of professional bodies.

Results: We received responses from 346 participants. The majority of participants showed positive attitudes towards mental illness and correctly identified depression in the vignette (87%). Participants rated counsellors (84%) and physical activity (92%) as the most helpful professionals and intervention respectively while only 43% considered antidepressants as helpful for depression. When compared to other people in the community, long-term functioning of the individual described in the vignette was rated poorly, especially in terms of increased likelihood to attempt suicide (85%) and reduced likelihood to be a productive worker (64%). Approximately 30% of participants reported reduced confidence/comfort while approximately half of participants reported greater interest in providing mental health-related care compared to cardiovascular disease. The participants also highlighted several areas for future mental health training they wished to undertake.

Conclusions: We have identified positive attitudes towards mental illness in our study. Participants correctly identified and supported evidence-based interventions for mild to moderate depression. However, we highlighted the need for ongoing mental health training to address knowledge gaps and enhance the confidence in providing mental health-related care.