1. Background

The NSW Mental Health Commission was established under the Mental Health Commission Act 2012. The Commission is an independent statutory authority which reports to the Minister for Mental Health, the NSW Parliament and the public. It is required amongst other things to develop a draft whole of government strategic plan for the mental health system in NSW and then to monitor the implementation of reforms that follow.

The Commission has a clear mandate to work across government and other service providers to drive reform across the mental health sector. The reform agenda is not limited to mental health treatment and services but takes an holistic approach, with a core function of the Commission being to advocate for and promote the general health and well-being of people who have a mental illness and their families and carers.

Pharmacological issues, and in particular polypharmacy, can be associated with a range of poor health outcomes and other significant risks, such as non adherence. However, there are also benefits when medicines are appropriately combined to improve quality of life and prevent complications*. The Commission is, therefore, keen to ensure that pharmacological issues are considered and addressed as appropriate.

2. Role and aims

The role of the Pharmacotherapy in Mental Health Advisory Group is to provide the Commission with high level strategic advice and guidance in relation to pharmacotherapy and mental health.

The Pharmacotherapy in Mental Health Advisory Group is not a formal governance mechanism under the Commission's administrative and decision-making structure, which allows it the freedom to be advisory in nature. Members are invited in an individual capacity, rather than in a representative capacity, based on their own professional experience.

The Pharmacotherapy in Mental Health Advisory Group will:

  1. provide advice on existing research and evidence to inform examination of issues and to identify gaps
  2. foster an improved understanding of the causes and risks of polypharmacy and facilitate sharing of good practice in medication review, clinical effectiveness and consumer  and family/carer involvement with the consumer’s consent where-ever possible.
  3. provide advice on the general health and wellbeing of consumers that may be affected by pharmacotherapy
  4. offer suggestions about the effective engagement of consumers and family/carers to empower them to participate in making choices around medication use
  5. identify potential strategies for engaging with organisations that have a formal mandate to review, govern, guide or assist the practice of psychiatry
  6. understanding variability in respect to medicines due to a variety of factors, for example, geographic ancestry, cultural diversity, interactions with social conditions, and the consequent implications for training.

In conducting its work the Advisory Group is required to have regard to the views of consumers and carers.

3. Membership

The Pharmacotherapy in Mental Health Advisory Group will consist of such persons as may be invited to join the Committee by the Commissioner.

In the first instance this will include:

  • a chief psychiatrist
  • a carer
  • a consumer
  • an adult psychiatrist
  • an aged care psychiatrist
  • a child and adolescent psychiatrist
  • a pharmacist
  • an academic/researcher
  • a general practitioner (GP)
  • a nursea
  • allied professionals: for example a psychologist, occupational therapist, social worker.

4. Meeting frequency

The Pharmacotherapy in Mental Health Advisory Group will bi-annually.

5. Secretariat

The agenda will be coordinated by the System Monitoring and Review Team, Mental Health Commission. Action orientated minutes of the meeting will be recorded and circulated as a record of the meeting and tasks to be completed.

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Last updated: 3 June 2017