If a patient you know well came into the pharmacy and told you they had just been in hospital following a heart attack, how would you respond?
Most of us would show concern, ask if they're doing well and see if there's anything we can do to help.
What about if the same patient came in and told you they had been sectioned because of a severe mental health problem however. Would you react any differently?
Mental illness affects 1 in 6 of all adults at any one time but it is a sad fact that despite changing attitudes, discrimination against people with mental health problems remains a huge issue. Many people when faced with somebody with a mental illness feel embarrassed or afraid of saying the wrong thing so often the issue is ignored.
Today (02/02/2017) is Time to Talk Day, an initiative created by the charities MIND and Rethink where we are encouraged to engage in conversations with people about mental health and pharmacy teams are particularly well placed to make an impact. Time to Talk recognises that by being better informed about mental illnesses and finding the time to talk about them, we can all bring positive benefits to millions of people with conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Public Health England have identified three steps that Healthy Living Pharmacies can adopt to make a difference in their communities. These are:
1Find out more about mental health. Websites such as NHS Choices and MIND can help us to learn about mental health conditions and know how best to support patients with them.
2Know the signs and how to ask for help. Knowing the signs and symptoms of mental illness can ensure you help the people you encounter get the help they need. It can also help you keep check of your own mental health.
3Speak up and speak out. Tell people what you have learnt about mental health and be willing to talk to patients about their conditions. Speaking out about mental illness helps to reduce fear and discrimination.
Fortunately there are many resources available to help raise awareness amongst your team and even to launch a campaign within the pharmacy. Follow the links below for more details: