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Pharmacy has been left out of mental health strategy, says Pharmacy Voice

Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott says there are half a billion yearly opportunities for community pharmacies to engage with the public on mental health 

Pharmacy Voice has highlighted that community pharmacy has been left out of a national strategy for improving mental healthcare, which was written by organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists

Pharmacy Voice has raised concerns that community pharmacy has been left out of a national strategy for improving mental healthcare, written by leading charities and professional bodies.


The lobbying group highlighted the potential for pharmacy to make a difference to mental health patients, despite the sector being omitted from the strategy ‘A Manifesto For Better Mental Health', written by organisations including the Royal College of Psychiatrists and mental health charity Mind and published on Friday (August 22). 


The manifesto calls on the government to put an end to mental health services being"disadvantaged" in terms of funding and mentions GPs, nurses and hospitals in its vision for better care. The Mental Health Foundation, one of the report's authors, told C+D there "wasn't room" in the publication to mention pharmacy, but said the sector was an "important part" of the future of mental healthcare.


"There's no doubt at all that that [mental health] is something the community needs to take responsibility for," a spokesperson for the Mental Health Foundation said.


Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott stressed that there were half a billion opportunities yearly for community pharmacists to engage with the public on mental health issues, and called for their potential to be utilised. "Community pharmacies are part of the daily routine for people with mental health problems," he pointed out.


Pharmacists were key to post-diagnosis care for people with a mental illness, he said, and could support them to properly use their medicines, manage side-effects, give healthy living advice and signpost to other services.


Mr Darracott also called for antidepressants to be added to the list of medications eligible for the new medicine service (NMS). His calls echoed a recommendation in the NMS evaluation from the University of Nottingham, published earlier this month.


"Our collective attitude to mental health problems is shifting and we must build on this momentum to ensure we maximise care for the vulnerable members of our society," Mr Darracott argued.


In February, NHS Alliance chief executive Rick Stern told C+D it would be "bizarre" if pharmacy did not begin to play a larger role in supporting patients displaying the early signs of mental illness. 


Do you think pharmacy's role in mental health is being overlooked? 

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3 Comments

Andrew Low, Community pharmacist

Sahaja Yoga is a very valuable form of meditation and it is free.Pharmacists could look into this and would do well,I feel,to pass this on to customers and patients.
It does seem a waste not to do so.
Carl Jung,the psychiatrist,spoke clearly of the painful birth of collective consciousness,and Sahaja Yoga is a great "pain-reliever" in this aspect.
It's a shocking,shameful waste,and I speak as someone with schizophrenia who's seen how psychiatrists and other doctors,and pharmacists too,actually are in practice and,without wanting to be too undiplomatic,how little they actually do.

Dilip Shah, Community pharmacist

This report is just another example of the ignorance and lack of understanding of how pharmaceutical services are delivered in UK and the work community pharmacist every do in improving heath outcomes every day.It must be pointed out that Pharmacists have about 2 to 3 times more contact with the patients in the community than any other health professionals .

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think that this mirrors the UK college of mental health pharmacists to make any impact on pharmacies influence on mental health. My MSc dissertation was based on mental health medicines management and there are many opportunites for pharmacy to contribute to the mental health agenda.

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