RPS England calls for pharmacists to play bigger role in mental health care

Pharmacists can close the gap between physical and mental health

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England is calling for pharmacists to be integrated into services providing care for people with mental health conditions to ensure patients receive the right care and help tackle the health inequalities they currently experience.

The RPS today launches a new report: No health without mental health: How can pharmacy support people with mental health problems? at the House of Commons, which provides recommendations about how pharmacists can be better utilised as part of the multidisciplinary team to support people with mental health problems.

People with mental health problems often have more difficulty accessing healthcare than others and the life expectancy of those with a serious mental illness is 15-20 years less than average. Their physical health often suffers due to difficulties in managing their long term condition in a regular, coherent way and their additional health risks include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and smoking.

 The RPS is 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
  • Identification of how pharmacists in community settings can be enabled to better support people with mental health problems with their medicines. For example, such as through the inclusion of antidepressants in a service like the New Medicine Service
  • Every mental health team to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist, to provide support to the multidisciplinary team across a variety of settings

 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.

"In every setting pharmacists can make a huge difference to the mental health of their patients and so help demonstrate in a practical way the parity of esteem there should be between mental and physical health problems.

"This is the start of a dialogue and we look forward to working with the profession, NHS, patient groups and professional bodies to drive forward this important agenda."

Professor David Baldwin, Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said:

“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. Pharmacists can also detect symptoms which suggest someone might be becoming mentally or physically unwell, and can involve other health professionals when concerned about patients.

“Psychiatrists recognise the important role of pharmacists in helping patients make the best use of their medicines, including their efforts to support patients when pharmacological treatment is not suitable or no longer needed. We therefore welcome this new initiative from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.”