a green cross imageJune 6 2018

Pharmacists should be better integrated into services providing care for people with mental health conditions, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England has said. It would mean patients would receive better care and involving pharmacist would help tackle the health inequalities people with mental health conditions currently experience.

The RPS is launching a new report, ‘No health without mental health: How can pharmacy support people with mental health problems?’, which provides recommendations about how pharmacists can be better utilised as part of the multidisciplinary team in mental health.

The RPS is calling for:

  • Pharmacists to be commissioned to provide physical health monitoring and management of people with mental health conditions, which requires full access to the patient's record
  • Identify how pharmacists in community settings can be enabled to better support people with mental health problems with their medicines, such as through the inclusion of antidepressants in a service like the New Medicine Service
  • Every mental health team to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist, to provide support to the multidisciplinary team across a variety of settings

“People with mental health problems often have more difficulty accessing healthcare than others and the life expectancy of those with a serious mental illness is 15-20 years less than average,” said the Society.

“Their physical health often suffers due to difficulties in managing their long-term condition in a regular, coherent way and their additional health risks include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and smoking.”

RPS England Board Chair Sandra Gidley added: “Mental and physical health are interwoven yet the treatment gap is enormous. The significantly poorer health of people with mental health conditions is shaming and must be tackled. 

“It’s crucial that the Government and the NHS make the most of the pharmacy workforce to better support patients and commission services which integrate pharmacists into care pathways that can better support patients.”

Professor David Baldwin, Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said that pharmacists have a “pivotal role” in mental health care, both in the safe supply of medicines and information. 

“Pharmacists can also detect symptoms which suggest someone might be becoming mentally or physically unwell, and can involve other health professionals when concerned about patients.,” he said.

“Psychiatrists recognise the important role of pharmacists in helping patients make the best use of their medicines, including their efforts to support patients when pharmacological treatment is not suitable or no longer needed. We therefore welcome this new initiative from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.”

RPS announcement      
Royal Pharmaceutical Society. ‘No health without mental health: How can pharmacy support people with mental health problems?’. June 2018.