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Looking after your mental health

July offers many opportunities for pharmacy staff to raise awareness about mental health issues among their customers.

The summer months are a time for relaxation, basking in the sun, barbeques, beaches and holidays. But in the pharmacy, there’s still lots of health campaigns to help teams raise awareness and support their customers. 

Here’s what’s coming up in July…

Talk to Us Month

Whilst summer is typically a time of great enjoyment as the increase of vitamin D lifts spirits, for some, mental health conditions will still impact their day-to-day. Suicide awareness charity, the Samaritans, names July ‘Talk to Us’ Month. The charity’s principal aim is to make sure there’s always someone there for anyone who needs to talk and they offer a variety of ways to get in touch: 

  • Call: 116 123

Benefits: free, one-to-one, open 24 hours a day

Downsides: have patchy phone signal, prefer to write things down, looking for advice

  • Write: Freepost SAMARITANS LETTERS

Benefits: free, time to compose your thoughts, time to reflect between letters 

Downsides: need urgent support, no fixed address, hard to post a letter

  • Email: jo@samaritans.org

Benefits: time to compose thoughts, no need to respond right away, work things through over time

Downsides: need urgent support, want to talk things through in one go, want to speak to the same person throughout

  • Self-help app

Benefits: free, work things in your own time, don’t need to speak to anyone if not ready

Downsides: need urgent help, want to speak to volunteer, internet connection unreliable

  • Welsh language line: 0808 164 0123.

During Talk to Us Month, Samaritans branches across the UK and Republic of Ireland hold local events to raise awareness about the charity and that help is available at any time of day or night. 

The Big Listen: 24 July

This is further emphasised by the main event of ‘Talk to Us’ Month: The Big Listen, held on the 24 July, highlights the fact that the Samaritans are available 24/7. The day focuses on taking a step back and taking the time to really listen to those who are struggling. In order to do this, the charity offers these top tips: 

  • Show you care – focus just on the other person
  • Have patience – it may take time for the person to open up
  • Use open questions – ones that need more than a yes/no
  • Say it back – to check you understand
  • Have courage – don’t be put off by a negative response.

To find your nearest Samaritans branch.

Alcohol Awareness Week: 3-9 July

Mental health problems can manifest in many different ways, one of which being alcoholism. Alcohol Awareness Week, coordinated by charity Alcohol Change UK, having previously occurred in November now falls in the first week of July. 

This year, the theme is ‘Alcohol and cost’. The total social cost of alcohol to society is estimated to be at least £21 billion each year. As individuals, we spend £50,000 on average on alcohol over the course of a lifetime, according to Alcohol Change UK. 

The cost of living crisis has also exacerbated the issue, causing some people to drink more in order to cope with their ongoing financial problems. Of course, worst of all is the cost of alcohol to individuals and their personal lives. 

That’s why Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance for the UK to get thinking about drinking. Over 5,000 public health teams, workplaces, GP surgeries, pharmacies, hospitals, charities and other community groups across the country have already signed up to take part, and you could get your pharmacy involved too.

Community pharmacy teams can use Alcohol Change UK’s guide to running Alcohol Awareness Week in their community which is packed full of ideas such as: 

  • Spread the word on social media
  • Create a display in the pharmacy 
  • Signpost customers to Alcohol Change UK’s interactive drinking tools
  • Encourage customers to get involved in alcohol-free activities, such as sport or book clubs. 

Teams can also sign up to receive information and resources from Alcohol Change UK.

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