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We need to talk about mental health

14 Dec 2017

Pharmacists must show themselves the same compassion they show patients when they’re struggling with mental health issues, says The Pharmacist editor Beth Kennedy

By now, we’re all aware of the prevalence of mental illness. Estimates suggest that one in four will struggle during their lifetime, although I’d wager that it could be much higher than that.

But, as our reporter Léa Legraien found out when she looked at mental health among pharmacists, as common as mental illness may be, nothing can prepare you for the horror of going through it yourself.

Evidence would suggest that pharmacists are more likely to suffer from bouts of serious mental health conditions, with female pharmacists over 2% more likely to commit suicide than the national average across other professions.

Whatever the reason for this – and often, there’s no attributable cause – it’s simply unacceptable that so many pharmacists feel unable to open up about their problems for fear of being seen as unprofessional.

As the brave pharmacists we spoke to told us, the sector’s culture must change so that those struggling feel not only able – but supported – to ask for help.

But here’s the catch. As difficult as this might sound, for this to happen, pharmacists have got to try and open up to their peers and colleagues when they’re going through a tough time.

So I’ll practice what I preach. Like so many others (perhaps many of you, as the statistics would suggest) I’ve had my own struggles with mental health. And I can honestly say from my own experiences that being as open as possible with those around me led to getting the help I needed. It saved me.

So for any of you struggling, hang in there and consider reaching out for help. It’s always there when you know where to look for it.

You can call Pharmacist Support’s freephone number on 0808 168 2233 or call the Samaritans 24 hours a day on 116 123.

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