Mental Health Awareness Month is observed every May. It’s a time for communities, organizations, and individuals to come together to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and wellness. Pharmacies are often the most accessible healthcare providers for patients and they can play an essential role in supporting mental health and advocacy among their communities.
Here are some ways pharmacies can participate in Mental Health Awareness Month:
1. Provide Educational Resources on Mental Health
There are great resources online that can be utilized to educate on mental health. These resources include signs and symptoms someone may be experiencing, treatment options, how and where to get help and the different types of mental health conditions. These resources can be printed or ordered and then given out in-person at your pharmacy. You can also share this information with your community via your social media channels.
Here are a couple of sources of free educational materials:
-Mental Health America (MHA) is another great source of educational material including, social media resources, printable handouts, posters, and more.
2. Host a Wellness Event or Mental Health Screening at Your Pharmacy
Pharmacies can host free wellness events or mental health screenings for their patients. Wellness events can include partnering with a yoga studio or meditation expert and having them host an event and the pharmacy could sponsor it. The event can be free for all pharmacy patients, this would be a great way to provide your patients a day of support.
Additionally, Mental Health Screenings can be done by partnering with mental health organizations or hiring licensed professionals to administer the screenings. The screenings can be conducted privately in consultation areas, and the results then provided to patients. By providing your patients results on the spot you can help them identify any potential mental health conditions they may have and encourage them to seek professional help. MHA also has an online mental health test that can quickly help identify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental conditions.
3. Promote Self-Care Products
Promoting products that aid in self-care such as essential oils, vitamins, and supplements can improve mental wellbeing. You might also consider displaying items such as journals and stress balls that customers would find beneficial in managing stress and anxiety in their day-to-day lives.
4. Provide Referrals to Mental Health Professionals
Pharmacists are trained to recognize signs of mental health issues and can refer patients to mental health professionals if they believe it is necessary. This may involve discussing symptoms with the patient, conducting an assessment, and referring the patient to a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment. Many pharmacies have relationships with local healthcare providers, including
mental health professionals such as psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists that they can direct their patients to so they are properly diagnosed and treated for any suspected mental health conditions.
5. Offer Mental Health First Aid Training
According to NCPA, “Pharmacists and pharmacy team members are more likely to need to respond to a mental health episode than to a situation requiring basic life support or CPR.” With that being said, it is imperative that pharmacy teams are appropriately trained to handle a mental health episode. A great way to do this is for pharmacies to offer Mental Health First Aid training to their employees. This 8-hour training will provide team members with the skills and knowledge to identify and assist individuals who are experiencing mental health issues and help employees understand how to handle mental health emergencies.
6. Prioritize Mental Health Among Your Pharmacy Teams
Remember to practice what you preach when it comes to prioritizing mental wellness. Pharmacists often put so much energy into making sure their patients are healthy both physically and mentally – but sometimes at the expense of their own well-being. Remember that it takes a happy team to provide the best level of care so it is important to make sure you and your pharmacy team members are taking steps to prevent burnout, manage stress, and have a healthy work-life balance.
In conclusion, pharmacies can play an essential role in raising awareness and advocating for mental health. By providing educational resources, hosting mental health screenings, promoting self-care products, providing referrals, offering Mental Health First Aid training, and using social media, pharmacies can make a significant impact on their community’s mental health. Together, we can work towards a society that supports and brings awareness to mental health and wellness.