Mental Health

The expertise and clinical knowledge of pharmacists must be fully utilised to support people with mental health problems and ensure they live longer and healthier lives.
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 long-term conditions and additional health risks include diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, lack of exercise and smoking.
Many of the medicines used to treat mental health problems are associated with health risks. As the experts in medicines and their use, pharmacists can ensure people get the best outcomes from their medicines, reduce adverse events, minimise avoidable harm and unplanned admissions to hospital, while ensuring resources are used more efficiently to deliver the standard and level of care that people with mental health problems deserve.


Key recommendations

  1. 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.
  2. Pharmacists in community settings to be enabled to better support people with mental health problems with their medicines, such as through the inclusion of antidepressants in a service like the New Medicine Service.
  3. Every mental health team to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist, to provide support to the multidisciplinary team across care settings.

“This report will be a valuable resource to kickstart conversation and – more importantly – action, looking at how we can ensure that pharmacists and primary care services as a whole are doing all they can to give people with mental health problems the support they deserve.

“If we get mental health support in primary care right, we can help people stay well and less likely to reach the point of crisis. Mind’s Find The Words campaign is about making sure people get the right support from primary care – find out more at”

Paul Farmer, Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity

“There is a shameful correlation between high levels of deprivation and poor mental health.

“As the most accessible part of the health service community pharmacy can help address this inequality.

“Great work is already taking place and more than 70,000 community pharmacy staff have become Dementia Friends.

“But to unlock the sector’s full potential measures in this report, like giving community pharmacists read and write access to patient health records, must be taken forward.”

Helga Mangion, NPA Policy Manager

The Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry welcomes this report and acknowledges the contribution that pharmacists can and do make in treating mental health conditions.

"As the numbers of older adults in the population is increasing, we are seeing an increase in the number of older people living with mental conditions. As this report highlights, often older people will have a number of different physical illnesses alongside their mental health conditions. It follows that health professionals, including the pharmacist, should be working together collaboratively, integrating different services to provide the best possible advice and support to meet these complex needs.
Older people with mental health issues benefit from early recognition of their symptoms and prompt referrals to the best services to provide support and treatment.

Pharmacists are uniquely well-placed to spot mental health issues such as depression or dementia as they see people with long-term conditions on a regular basis."

Dr Amanda Thompsell FRCPsych, Chair, Royal College of Psychiatry’s Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry

“National Voices is a champion of person-centred, coordinated care, which requires different health professionals working together, seeing the patient as a whole person, and taking mental health together with physical health. We are very pleased therefore that the Royal Pharmaceutical Society is taking forward work which reflects these fundamentals”. 

Jeremy Taylor, Chief Executive, National Voices

"At CPPE, we believe there is a vital role for pharmacy professionals across all healthcare sectors in helping to improve the lives of those living with mental health conditions.  The active engagement with our recent Mental Health Campaign has demonstrated an enthusiasm within the profession to improve their support for people living with mental health conditions.  Working together with the multidisciplinary team and enhancing pharmacy roles across system will help to provide individualised and holistic support for those with mental health conditions and ensure that those with physical health and mental health conditions receive parity of treatment.  

"This policy document from the Royal Pharmaceutical society provides recommendations that are key to enabling effective use of pharmacy resources across the healthcare system with the purpose of optimising person-centred care, supporting wellbeing and reducing premature mortality.  At CPPE we are pleased to endorse these recommendations, which if implemented will enable pharmacy teams to better support people with mental health problems and ensure they live longer and healthier lives."

Centre for Postgraduate Pharmacy Education

“Pharmacological treatment is an important part of the overall care of many patients with psychiatric illness. 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: and therefore welcome this new initiative from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society.

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

"We welcome this report and the recognition of community pharmacy's potential to provide easily accessible support for people with mental health problems, such as by providing physical health checks. Expanding the New Medicine Service to include antidepressants is also a feature of our Community Pharmacy Care Framework proposals and we look forward to discussing these with DHSC and NHS England."

Alastair Buxton, Director of NHS Services

If you have an example of good practice that you would like to share with the RPS and the profession then please download and complete the Good Practice case study submission form and email it to Heidi Wright at [email protected]

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