IPSF APRO Policy Writing: Mental Health 2019-20



Policy Writing: Mental Health


The International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) is a non-profit organisation that strives for public health promotion and education. It is represented by over 500,000 pharmaceutical students and recent graduates from over 90 countries worldwide. The IPSF Asia Pacific Regional Office (APRO) is a functional extension of the IPSF Executive and it represents approximately 55,000 members from 18 countries in the Asia Pacific Region. IPSF APRO works collaboratively with its 28 Member Associations to raise awareness on various health topics, one of which is mental health.


Mental health is an integral part of the well-being of a person. It is one of the three aspects of health alongside the physical and social aspects.1 The significance of mental health is highlighted as a person who is mentally healthy actualizes his or her abilities, copes with the stress of life, can work productively and is able to make a significant contribution to his or her community.1


A study by WHO approximates one in five of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental disorder.1 This suggests that at a young age, 20% of the global population do not actualize their abilities, cannot cope with the stress of life, and are unproductive. But, more important to consider is the number of mental health workers who would cater to them: 2 per 100 000 population in low- income countries to over 70 per 100 00 in high-income countries.2 For this reason, concrete steps should be taken to ensure that mental health is given greater importance by the public.


Pharmacists, as drug experts, can empower mental healthcare with the provision of necessary drugs and their information to patients experiencing mental disorders. Yet, there is more to improving mental health than taking medication. Mental health is multifactorial, having determinants ranging from biological factors (genes and brain chemistry), life experiences (trauma and abuse), and family history.3 Drugs provided by the pharmacist affect the biological factor of mental health. However, other determinants, especially life experiences are not so easily remedied. For these instances, awareness and understanding of their situation are essential in the improvement of their mental health.


In line with this, the International Pharmaceutical Students’ Federation (IPSF) specifically its Asia-Pacific Regional Office (APRO) conducted an online campaign during World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2019. This campaign encouraged everyone to be empathetic and seek proper care for their mental health by using the hashtag #GetHelp. Additionally, it emphasized the essential role of pharmacists in assisting patients with mental health conditions, that is, pharmacists listen to patients’ concerns, address their questions and set clear expectations which are crucial to ensure therapy adherence.


The Member Associations of IPSF APRO also hold projects to further this cause. This include the “Share the Happiness” campaign initiated by the Malaysian Pharmacy Students’ Association (MyPSA) all throughout the month of February 2020 wherein they encouraged their followers to share a “3-word happy story” to break the stigma towards mental health and the “Stress Garden” project spearheaded by VNU HCM PO from September to November 2019 which utilized gardening therapy to improve mental health and reduce stress. Member Associations also hold country campaigns to address the issue of mental health. Previous country campaigns which tackled mental health have been done in New Zealand, Indonesia, and the Philippines represented by NZAPS-O, APSA, ISMAFARSI, BEM KEMAFAR UNPAD, JPPhA-Pi, and UPPhA. These country campaigns highlighted how the pharmacy profession and pharmacists can help the public in improving mental health.


These advocacies emphasize the importance the Federation places on mental health. It is essential to go over and beyond the specialty of drugs brought about by a pharmacists’ education. A holistic approach involving advocacies and campaigns must be employed to ascertain the improvement of mental health.


IPSF APRO urges to integrate a culture of importance to mental health among its Member Associations using mental health fora, webinars and public health education. The movement towards a refined system for mental health is yet to be fulfilled. Everyone’s contribution is quintessential. Therefore, IPSF APRO encourages everyone to actively seek out ways to improve and support mental health and its care.



1. WHO. Mental health: Strengthening our response, 2018. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response

 2. WHO. Mental health, 2019. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in- pictures/detail/mental-health

 3.  MentalHealth.gov. What is Mental Health?, 2019. Available from: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health


Policy Writing Written by: 

Mr. Bill Whilson Baljon

IPSF APRO Secretary Subcommittee Member 2019-2020


Policy Writing Reviewed by: IPSF APRO Secretary

Ms. Wendy Yu-Wun Jian