Pharmacy Times® spoke with Elizabeth Skoy, PharmD, and Amy Werremeyer, PharmD, BCPP, associate professors at the North Dakota State University School of Pharmacy, about what patients wish their pharmacists knew about their mental health, such as new treatments for mental illness and how the role of the pharmacist has changed during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

During recent years, both Skoy and Werremeyer said they have seen increased awareness on mental health as pharmacists and as educators, highlighting that there are still ways to improve how pharmacists go about treatment and diagnosis. Specifically, Werremeyer noted how she has seen an increased focus on medication to treat mental illnesses.

Skoy mentioned how the importance of being accessible as a pharmacist has come into play more than ever, with telehealth emerging as a main source of communication.  

In terms of the role of the pharmacist during COVID-19, Skoy elaborated on the fact that pharmacists are being recognized more each day for their everyday tasks’ pre-pandemic, such as compounding and providing point of care testing, all while staying accessible.

“Patients used to come in whenever they wanted to and just walk up and have that access to health professionals with qualified, great education, and a lot of information,” Skoy said. “And now, it's more, you can't just walk up anymore, and so we're trying to…still [deliver] that care we need for the patients and also protecting the staff and our other patients to ensure that we don't further the spread of disease.”

Skoy and Werremeyer also discussed the use of Photovoice methodology for mental illness patients, psychopharmacology, areas of improvement in the pharmacists’ role in supporting mental health, and Mental Health Awareness Month.