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How Independent Pharmacies Can Promote Mental Health Awareness (And Make a Difference)

How Independent Pharmacies Can Promote Mental Health Awareness (And Make a Difference) by Elements magazine |

October 18, 2016

Is your pharmacy doing everything it can to raise awareness for mental health?

Approximately one in five U.S. adults experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that approximately 25 percent of all U.S. adults have a mental illness, and nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults will develop at least one mental illness during their lifetime.

Patients look to your independent community pharmacy for health advice and treatment. Ensure that your pharmacy is a safe space for all individuals, including those struggling with mental illness.

Spread awareness

Without awareness, a stigma can never be erased. And, for many individuals, mental illness is still misunderstood.

Ways you can raise awareness for mental health at your pharmacy include:


Inform your employees

Even your pharmacy staff may not be well-versed in mental health.

NAMI offers provider education to health professionals. The classes enhance empathy and help providers better understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness or to know someone affected. Check the NAMI chapter in your area for class listings.

NAMI also offers an educational video, Competent Caring: When Mental Illness Becomes a Traumatic Event, for continuing education purposes.

Encourage your staff members to watch the video or attend a class.

Be proactive

Your pharmacy can help identify patients who might be at risk.

For example, patients with chronic illnesses, especially diabetes, cardiovascular disease or dementia, are at an increased risk for experiencing clinical depression. Because your pharmacists see these patients regularly, they’re in a prime position to identify patients at risk for mental illness.

Offer screenings

A lack of proper treatment for mental health illnesses costs the U.S. $193.2 billion, according to a NAMI statistic.

Consider offering free screenings. For example, the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ) can help you identify patients with depression. The test monitors the severity of the patient’s mood disorder.

Perform medication reviews

Medication adherence can be a problem for any patient, but for your patients living with mental illness, compliance may be even more of a concern.

Improve medication adherence by implementing an adherence program, which synchronizes all of a patient’s medication refills to a single date. An adherence program can help ensure that patients are picking up their medications on time.

You can also offer personal medication counseling sessions to go over patients’ prescriptions, so they understand the importance of taking their medication regularly.

Encourage healthy living

Individuals living with serious mental illness are subject to an increased risk of chronic medical conditions.

To combat this risk, encourage your patients to lead healthier lifestyles. You can offer encouragement tips by including information in prescription bags, posting on your social media accounts and giving patients tips in person.

Some suggestions for improving mental well-being include:


Endorse the Mental Health Pharmacy Directory

The College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) Foundation recently launched a website directory for patients looking for mental health help in the pharmacy. The Mental Health Pharmacy Directory identifies more than 850 mental health pharmacies for patients to choose from.

The pharmacies listed in the directory offer:
• Assistance serving the medication-related needs of patients with mental illness
• Empathy for individuals with mental illnesses
• Communication with mental health care providers to resolve medication-related problems
• Dispensing services for special mental health medications
• Motivation for adherence behavior

If you’d like your pharmacy to be included on the website, fill out this pharmacy survey for consideration.

Discover more tips for promoting healthy living in your pharmacy.



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