People visiting pharmacies across drought-affected NSW will benefit from boosted mental health support thanks to a $1 million investment from the NSW Nationals in the state government in a pilot program to deliver mental health training to pharmacists and staff.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the funding will help pharmacy staff better understand mental health issues such as suicide, depression and trauma.

“With the ongoing impact of drought, bushfires and COVID throughout the regions, our communities are dealing with financial stress and uncertain times,” Mr Barilaro said.

“We want to provide more opportunities for people to talk with health professionals about their mental health.

“Every conversation that helps a person’s mental health is the opportunity to save, or improve, a life.”

NSW Nationals Minister for Mental Health Bronnie Taylor said the training would begin in September and deliver a 5000 strong legion of trained pharmacists in drought-affected areas.

“In regional areas, pharmacists are often the first to notice someone in mental distress,” Mrs Taylor said.

“This training will give pharmacists the tools to support the community, from immediate care through to finding the most appropriate specialist services.”

President of the Pharmacy Guild’s NSW branch David Heffernan said pharmacists in regional and rural areas are well placed to begin a conversation about mental health.

“We want to be part of the broader effort to tackle stigma and promote help-seeking at a local level.” Mr Heffernan said.

The training will be run by the NSW Branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and pharmacists will display a ‘mental health safe space sticker’ in their pharmacy. For more information, visit https://www.guild.org.au/guild-branches/nsw.