A new RPS report calls for pharmacy teams to take on a bigger role in mental health care provision.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) in England is calling for pharmacy teams to be integrated into services providing care for people with mental health conditions to ensure patients receive the right care and to support their physical health needs.

In its new report – No health without mental health: How can pharmacy support people with mental health problems? – the RPS provides recommendations on how this can be achieved, notably: educating pharmacy teams about common trigger points to help early identification of illness, and providing integrated services that help people with mental health problems to live longer, healthier lives.

With the aim of tackling the health inequalities currently experienced by many people with mental health problems – the life expectancy of those with severe and prolonged mental illness is 15-20 years less than average – the RPS is also calling for:

  • Pharmacists to be commissioned to provide physical health monitoring and management of people with mental health conditions, which requires full access to the patient’s record
  • Identify how pharmacists in community settings can be enabled to better support people with mental health problems with their medicines, such as through the inclusion of antidepressants in the new medicine service
  • Every mental health team to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist.

Addressing the gap

Speaking at the launch of the report, which has support from the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) and mental health charity Mind, RPS England Board chair Sandra Gidley said: “Mental and physical health are interwoven yet the treatment gap is enormous. The significantly poorer health of people with mental health conditions is shaming and must be tackled. It’s crucial that the Government and the NHS make the most of the pharmacy workforce to better support patients and commission services which integrate pharmacists into care pathways that can better support patients.”

Professor David Baldwin, chair of the RCP’s Psychopharmacology Committee, commented: “Pharmacists have a pivotal role in mental health care: by examining prescriptions to assure that potential hazards are minimised, by keeping and dispensing medicines in a safe environment, and – increasingly – through providing information and answering questions raised by patients and clinical colleagues.”

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