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How to stay medication smart: mental health

Managing more than one medication can be confusing, but is essential to keeping you healthy.

Managing medications for mental health conditions can be challenging, particularly if it is new medication or you have to take more than one tablet.

Not only do you have to remember to take the medication, but often different medications require different preparation whether it has to be taken with food, at night or at the same time every day.

Alcohol and Drug Clinical Nurse Consultant Matthew Ireland says medication for all health issues, including mental health conditions, were an important part of recovery and wellness, therefore, it is vital to be medication smart.

“Whenever you start a new medication you should speak to your nurse, doctor or pharmacist to find out all the information you need to know including how to take it, when to take it and possible side effects,” he says.

“That way you will get the most benefit from what you are taking and know when something is not right.”

St John of God Health Care medication

How to be medication smart?

Being medication smart is all about knowledge:

Keep track of your medications and doses

To help you remember when to take your medications:

  • Keep all your medications together in a visible but secure place
  • Take your medications at the same time every day, setting alerts on a mobile device can help you remember when it’s time
  • Keep a diary documenting the days and times that your medication is due.

Essential information to know about your medication

Before you begin the course, these are some things you should know about your medication:

  • What it does and what it’s for.
  • How much to take.
  • When you should take it. In the morning/evening or before/after food
  • The side effects and how they can affect you.
  • If there are any foods, drinks or other medications you should avoid while taking it.

What to do if you forget to take medication

Don’t panic, if you forget to take your medication:

  • Take the missed dose as soon as possible
  • If it’s almost time for your next dose, just take one, never take two doses of the same medication at the same time
  • If you have missed multiple doses over a number of days, seek advice from a pharmacist or your treating doctor before taking another dose.

One last thing:

“Remember, never just stop taking your medications unless on the advice of your treating doctor,” Matthew advises.

“If you do have a problem with your medication or you are worried about potential addiction, speak to your treating doctor as soon as possible who can assist or advise you on what to do next.”

About Matthew Ireland

Matthew Ireland is a Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Drug and Alcohol Unit at St John of God Richmond Hospital in NSW with ten years’ experience in mental health and addiction treatment. Matthew has Graduate Diploma’s in Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health & Addiction and Human Rights and is nearing completion of his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Nursing.