Pharmacy programs are implementing new practices into their curriculum and research is being focused on mental health care.
The need for mental health intervention is on the rise as the importance of treating mental health conditions has become more prominent in health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) is committed to improving this area of health care across the globe using its Mental Health Action Plan.
The pharmacists' role in achieving this goal is also increasing. As a result, pharmacy programs are implementing new practices into their curriculum and research is being focused in this direction.
In the January 2023 issue of the Journal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice, researchers published a study on mental health that analyzed current pharmacy students' view on their education, the pharmacists’ role in mental health, and how to improve in these areas.
To conduct this study, pharmacy students in the UK and Ireland received an anonymous questionnaire aimed at understanding the use of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) teaching. The questionnaire also asked for open-ended comments regarding the MPharm degree’s mental health curriculum in general. The MPharm is a pharmacist’s degree in the UK and Ireland.
Key findings highlighted student perspectives on pharmacists' role in mental health discussions and practice. Students considered mental health as an important part of overall health but an underserved area that needs more attention.
They indicated that mental health is just as vital as other aspects of health care. Students also recognized the role of the pharmacist is essential in mental health care as they handle the prescriptions and drugs related to these issues. Community pharmacists are especially important due to their direct contact with patients receiving these medications and their role in person-centered care.
Students also emphasized that mental health needs to become a larger part of their education to consider themselves adequately trained. Only 45% of students in this study reported practice focused on counseling for medication related to mental health.
They indicated increased education on mental health issues would allow them to care for patients more effectively. Addressing stigma surrounding mental health and having the proper training in their education would also make students feel more equipped to address this issue. In this study, 81% of students reported the occurrence of stigma surrounding mental health.
Students recognized MHFA teaching as one option. The questionnaire’s results indicated that students would benefit from a more comprehensive mental health teaching in their curriculum, more experience engaging with patients, and learning about stigma in health care. Researchers recommended better equipping students using these tools.
About the Author
Abigail Johnson is a Senior Regulatory Affairs & Medical Writing Intern at ARCIEL, LLC in Stratford, Connecticut.
Gorton HC, Strawbridge J, Macfarlane H. Mental health: “It is a subject where most pharmacists [or pharmacy] students have no more knowledge than the general public.” J Pharm Policy Pract. 2023;16:13.