Mental Wellness: Pharmacists and Mental Health Teams Could Aid Positive Patient Outcomes

Commentary
Video

Gabriella Farkas, MD PhD, addresses the multifaceted role of pharmacists in the mental health and wellness space

Pharmacy Times interviewed Gabriella Farkas, MD PhD, Medical Director for Nurx's mental health services regarding the pharmacists role in aiding patients with mental health concerns. Farkas discussed how Nurx mental health services provide the highest quality mental health care in an asynchronous setting. Farkas emphasized the importance of pharmacists and mental health clinical teams connecting to provide vetted information for the patient.

Pharmacy Times

Can you introduce yourself and give a brief overview on your role in Nurx's mental health services?

PTSD Mental health concept, Psychologist sitting and touch hand young depressed asian man for encouragement near window with low light environment.Selective focus - Image credit: Chanintorn.v | stock.adobe.com

Image credit: Chanintorn.v | stock.adobe.com

Farkas

My name is Dr. Gabriela Farkas and I serve as medical director for the Nurx Mental Health services. I am a board-certified psychiatrist and I advise the team here at Nurx on how to provide the highest quality mental health care in an asynchronous setting.

Nurx itself is a trusted health care partner. We enable women to be the best advocates for their own and their family's health through specialty care and education. We provide services across multiple specialties— including neurology, mental health, dermatology, and sexual and reproductive health.

The mental health service line itself is geared towards mild to moderate depression and anxiety. So, we treat the mood disorder, depressive disorder category— including mild to moderate major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, mood lability, bipolar spectrum illness, premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Then for the anxiety disorder category, we cover essentially generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, and some other anxiety disorders as well. With unlimited messaging, our patients can get answers to their questions from our qualified health care team when they need it the most.

Pharmacy Times

Why are women more likely to treat mental health concerns compared to men?

Farkas

I think women in general are the ones responsible not just for their own health, but for the entire family's health. They're the ones searching online, making those appointments, and even picking up medications, so I think they're more likely to interact with the pharmacy team.

In general, also, women tend to be more resourceful and socially connected. They have maybe less stigma around seeking help when they need help for their mental health concerns. I think some of the negative societal messaging effects how men sometimes look at seeking care for their mental health needs. Unfortunately, some negative coping skills are more socially accepted and can make men prone to turn to those a little bit easier. In my practice, I've even seen men being afraid of ramifications of seeking mental health care— for instance, by their employer. So, I think we have some work to do on a societal level about this.

Pharmacy Times

How can pharmacists and health care providers advocate and promote men to treat mental health concerns?

Farkas

I think it starts by destigmatizing this topic by showing a readiness to discuss concerns that come up, answer questions that come up, just like we would discuss any other health conditions. I was thinking it would be so nice, and honestly some pharmacies may have this, but to create a private space where patients can ask questions in a confidential manner. I think that would give rise to a lot of fruitful discussions between the pharmacy team and the patient. From my own experience, when sometimes I fill a medication, even stating my date of birth to the pharmacist feels like a violation of privacy, because there are people in line waiting behind me and they can all overhear me. I will probably have a little bit of difficulty asking questions there. But I think we could really leverage the expertise the pharmacy team has by maybe creating some of those private spaces for patients.

Another thing I would say is not to make assumptions about the patient just based on their prescriptions. And just in general, communicating that seeking help for mental health concerns is healthy, and its part of healthy self-care.

Pharmacy Times

Studies found that women are more likely to interact with pharmacists when receiving medication for mental health conditions. What are ways pharmacists and mental health clinical teams could work together to ensure better patient outcomes?

Farkas

The pharmacy team is a very important member of the care team. The pharmacy team helps reinforce the instructions, the importance of taking the medications as prescribed, and enhance the patient's general understanding of the medication. Sometimes health care is high paced, and the patients may have questions that have been left unanswered by the prescriber. That's where the pharmacy team really comes in as an important source of vetted information. Which is also an important thing in today's day and age is vetted information from an expert team. I also see the pharmacy like the line of defense, ensuring patient safety making sure the instructions are clear, making sure the dosage is correct, and then reaching out to that prescriber if they see an issue. I think prescribers and pharmacists really work well together for patient safety. And from my own experience, if we see the same problem, we know that it's something we have to address.

Pharmacy Times

Can you give a brief overview on Via Nurx and the benefits it provides for patient.

Farkas

At Nurx, we focus on health areas that have historically been misunderstood, overlooked, or minimized. Our care model is asynchronous, on demand, private and confidential. We really put an emphasis on affordability, so we make sure that uninsured or underinsured patients have access to care in an affordable manner. We also put a big emphasis on access. Two thirds of our patients live in a medically underserved area where they have difficulty accessing even primary care, let alone specialty care. So, patients are getting the care where they need it and when they need it, in a timely manner. We're also driven by outcome. We use scientifically validated clinical measures on a regular basis to make sure that patients get better in a timely manner, and we provide that timely relief effectively.I don't think I can talk to the statistics there. But I do believe that home delivery coupled with telehealth have broken down some barriers to seeking care. Because telehealth to the patient's home coupled with home delivery, makes health care and mental health care as private as it gets. I do think that these innovative measures have helped patients to seek care.

Pharmacy Times

Have you noticed an increase in patients seeking care for mental health conditions after introducing home delivery?Is there anything you would like to add?

Farkas

I just wanted to say that I really see the pharmacists and the clinician’s continuum of care in the patient journey. Any treatment plans success hinges on a well operating pharmacy team. So, I wanted to give a quick shout out to any pharmacist who sees this and really thank you for everything that you do for patients on a daily basis.

Related Videos
BillionPhotos.com - stock.adobe.com
Whole psilocybin mushroom in a clear medication capsule | Image credit: Zim - stock.adobe.com
Patient suffering from atopic dermatitis -- Image credit: Nikkikii | stock.adobe.com
Image credit: Fabio Balbi | stock.adobe.com
Image credit: Melita - stock.adobe.com
Atopic dermatitis on a patient's hand -- Image credit: Ольга Тернавская | stock.adobe.com
cropped view of man performing chest compression on dummy during cpr training class - Image credit: LIGHTFIELD STUDIOS | stock.adobe.com
Medicine law concept. Judges gavel with pills | Image Credit: Iren Moroz - stock.adobe.com
Image credit: New Africa | stock.adobe.com
© 2024 MJH Life Sciences

All rights reserved.