“The third largest heathcare profession needs to play a bigger role in mental health care provision,” Sandra Gidley, chair of The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) England Board declared at the launch of the Society’s new report: No health without mental health: How can pharmacy support people with mental health problems?.

The document provides recommendations about how pharmacists can be better utilised as part of the multidisciplinary team to support people with mental health problems.

The RPS points out that 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.

“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,” said Gidley.

“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.”

The call has been backed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) and national mental health charity, Mind.

Professor David Baldwin, Chair of the Psychopharmacology Committee of the RCP, 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.

“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.”

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