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Monday, February 29, 2016

Pharmacists have a respected role in the local community; accessible and trustworthy, many patients would turn to their pharmacy before consulting their GP. However, one issue that is still very much hidden in the corner when it comes to healthcare is mental health. Despite the fact that as many as a quarter of the UK population experience anxiety, depression and more each year, it’s a subject that doesn’t get enough attention. Is your pharmacy doing everything it can to help those with mental health issues? If not, we’ve got some tips to help you improve your approach.  

Reducing the Stigma

One of the reasons why mental health is such a hushed topic is due to the stigma and lack of understanding surrounding it. Whereas an employee (and employer) wouldn’t think twice about calling in sick with physical illness or injury, issues such as depression rarely get the empathy they deserve. For this reason, many patients simply try to brush off mental health problems, rather than tackling them head on.

As a pharmacy, it’s important to create a positive environment that encourages people to come forward about any issues – mental or physical, big or seemingly small – they have. You’d be surprised at the response you get from your patients as they build up trust with your team.

Assessing Patients’ Mental Health

It’s important to recognize that patients with mental health problems are often in a vulnerable position. This makes paying attention to their health and well being a key responsibility as one of their first points of contact in the medical community. Keeping an eye on their prescriptions can ensure that they are getting the right type and amount of medication for their needs. However, this role should extend to those patients who may not have a history of mental health issues on their medical records too. Looking out for signs of depression, anxiety or other issues such as anorexia in your pharmacy could enable your team to intervene and offer support at the right time. If you notice a change in the behavior, attitude or appearance of a patient, make a record and monitor the patient to see if next steps are necessary.

Providing Support and Guidance

Where patients need additional support, signposting them to relevant bodies can encourage them to take action, whether it be visiting their GP, calling a helpline, or visiting a mental health clinic. You could also raise awareness about the help available by stocking leaflets and putting up posters in your pharmacy, to give those less confident about coming forward the information they need to address their concerns.

Mental health is an issue that is gradually coming into the spotlight, as health organisations, charities and the public find new ways to address the growing mental health crisis in the UK. By creating a trusting, positive environment with the resources on site to support those with issues such as depression and anxiety, your pharmacy can position itself on the front line of this salient subject.

This article was written by Kelly Gilmour Grassam with useful information from Pharma Protect. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyGGrassam


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