According to health care market intelligence by IMS Health, there has been a significant increase in prescription sales in the United States since 2008. It shows how Americans mostly rely on prescriptions to manage health conditions such as mental health issues. Our pharmacists act as the most trusted health advisor in this area.
The Main Role Of Community Pharmacists
Community pharmacists work at pharmacy chain stores and health care institutions. Their primary role is to provide medications and health-related services to patients and average customers. They should be able to promote the safe use of drugs and improve clinical outcomes. On the other hand, community pharmacists can also be reliable in assisting with mental health conditions.
A recent study entitled “The Role of Community Pharmacist in Mental Health” shows about one in five Americans is currently suffering from mental illnesses. One in six of those uses psychotropic medications for mental health-related issues. Therefore, both patients and community pharmacists need to be aware of what the latter can do in improving their overall mental health care.
The Roles Community Pharmacists Take To Address Mental Health Concerns
Community pharmacists can be aware of and recognize symptoms related to mental illness. They may be the first healthcare provider who can identify mental health concerns through simple observation. They pay close attention to mood changes and other signs exhibited by patients.
They also provide health screening checks to recognize mental illness. Based on the results from these tests, community pharmacy professionals should be able to give advice accordingly. They can point patients to the appropriate care provider and authorize referrals as a result.
Meanwhile, pharmacists are the ones who evaluate medication lists for medications that may alter patients’ mental state. They usually ask patients about existing health issues that might worsen due to medication interaction. It is beneficial for patients to understand their medication regimens better and learn the potential side effects of their medications.
A study has found patients on antidepressant therapy have low adherence rates. These include those who have depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. They either fail to fill initial prescriptions, adjust their dosing regimens, or stop their medications altogether.
The following are the common reasons for the high nonadherence rates:
- Patients have their own belief regarding the prescribed medication.
- Patients are avoiding the side effects they may have already experienced.
- Patients are avoiding the cost of their medications.
In line with these, community pharmacists may step in and monitor patient adherence. It is where running patient counseling services become impactful. It is expected of pharmacists to be more intentional with patient interactions because these affect patients with depression and other psychiatric illnesses.
Community pharmacists must listen intently to patients’ concerns, address their questions, and set clear expectations. The 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health revealed many people with depression do not seek treatment due to social stigma. Thus, pharmacists can play a vital role as accessible and trusted medical professionals in the community.
There is so much more community pharmacists can do to address mental health concerns. In general, they serve as an affordable and accessible health care education resource. They provide medical information not only through face-to-face interactions but also through printed materials about mental health and conventional medications.
Community pharmacists have the power to improve outcomes for patients facing mental health issues. With an improved approach in their practice, further research and policy work, they can create effective mental health care teams in their communities.