Pharmacists: Enhance our role in mental health support

Tuesday 8th October 2019

Pharmacists are calling for a greater role in mental health support to improve patient care.

High street pharmacists already give advice about medication, spot early warning signs and, in some areas, are part of integrated primary care teams.

But the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in Scotland wants a more prominent role to become the norm.

RPS is hosting a roundtable with policymakers, politicians and pharmacists today to explore how models of care could be changed.

This could include training in appropriate suicide prevention and mental health crisis support, as well as providing more formal follow-up care.

The medicines experts also want every mental health team to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist and for pharmacies to get access to electronic patient records.

RPS Scotland chair Jonathan Burton commented: “We believe that pharmacists are vital to the delivery of the Scottish Government’s Mental Health Strategy and could play a leading role in multidisciplinary teams.

“Working in the community, pharmacists see people more often than any other health professional and provide holistic care. There are great examples across the country from universities and rural communities to areas of deprivation where pharmacists are providing much-needed support.

The Stirling-based community pharmacist said: “As experts in all aspects of medicines, pharmacists are often best placed to review a patient’s overall medication and will take a holistic approach to an individual’s conditions. We can improve the quality of their care by ensuring that they are getting the most benefit from the medicines they are taking and reducing the risk of harm.”

RPS’s intervention comes ahead of reforms scheduled for next year that will see high street pharmacists provide a wider range of services.

Consultations, advice, treatment and referrals for minor ailments will be available for more patients from April in a bid to make community pharmacy the “first point of call for non-urgent health care and advice”.