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  • Online publication date: August 2018

6 - Use of psychotropic medicines in mental health care



This chapter provides an overview of the common medicines prescribed within mental health care and explores the ways in which personal narratives and social expectations can influence the experience of taking medicines. The chapter also looks at concepts and practices that influence the management of medicines and encourage safe and high-quality use of medicines. These concepts include compliance, adherence and concordance, shared decision-making, quality use of medicines, monitoring and review. The associated practices draw attention to the context of mental health care in the current era, in which health practitioners, including nurses, operate as a team. Facilitating a positive experience of medicinal use requires quality communication and team work, whereby nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists, dietitians, medical practitioners and pharmacists work in partnerships with the consumer and carer. The roles of the mental health practitioner are discussed in terms of supporting the experience of consumers and families with the use of medication, providing information and guidance, advocating for the expressed wishes of consumers and assisting in solving problems, monitoring safety and health promoting activities. Reflective exercises help readers to consider the engagement and communication skills required for the promotion of a positive experience for consumers, and encourage them to be involved in their medicine-related care.

Why do I need to know about the use of medicines?

Psychotropic medicines are at the centre of treatment for many forms of mental illness. Most health practitioners come into contact, on a daily basis, with people taking psychotropic medicines. Providing safe and high-quality health care requires you to understand the concepts and themes expressed within the learning objectives. This learning will help you to understand why the prescription of psychotropic medicines is linked to community attitudes and stigma towards mental illness and why many consumers may be hesitant to take these medicines or may wish to discuss their experience of them. From a safety perspective, in this chapter you will also learn about the side effects of psychotropic medicines and how you can assist in identifying adverse events and health risks for consumers. The chapter also introduces the concept of shared decision-making, which is a framework that includes consumers and carers in treatment planning and helps them to understand and express their wishes and preferences regarding treatment.