Ahead of the return of the ACTNow pharmacist wellbeing campaign running from 25 September to 22 October, we speak to Pharmacist Support about what is on offer.

What is the ACTNow campaign, and what are you asking pharmacists to do?

With news of the spread of the Covid-19 virus and subsequent lockdown, Pharmacist Support launched its first major wellbeing campaign (ACTNow) in May 2020, to encourage individuals and teams across the profession to:

  • Allow time for wellbeing
  • Consider needs of others
  • Take action.

In our recent Workforce Wellbeing survey, nine in ten pharmacists told us they’re at risk of burnout, and seven in ten pharmacists felt that their mental health and wellbeing has been negatively affected by work.

We want to encourage pharmacy organisations, teams and individuals to be part of a workforce culture shift. That’s why our annual ACTNow campaign for pharmacists is back.

Running from 25 September to 22 October, this year we are focusing on breaking the silence of mental health and wellbeing, transforming workplace cultures, developing the pharmacy team, and prioritising individual wellbeing. ​

We’re asking individuals and pharmacy teams across Britain to take ACTion and to sign up to our ACTNow campaign, where they will receive access to free mental health and wellbeing resources for themselves and their teams.

What are the main wellbeing issues that affect pharmacists?

Respondents to the charity’s market research told us that long working hours, a lack of cohesion across the pharmacy sector, poor mental health, and a lack of colleague and senior support on the job are some of the core issues facing the pharmacy profession today.

Respondents also told us that they needed support managing stress at work, managing their work-life balance and with sharing best practice. Many are aware of the mental health and wellbeing support available but take up of these services is generally low – barriers to accessing support include concerns around confidentiality and the impact on career.

This is where our charity, services and campaign can help.

Why is it important for pharmacists to look after their own wellbeing?

Wellbeing is the state of having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose, and the ability to manage stress. It's important to realise that wellbeing is a much deeper concept than moment-to-moment happiness, and we must invest in it if we want to have sustained happiness, control of our emotions, higher productivity, and good physical health.

Good working conditions are essential in promoting positive staff wellbeing and make good business sense. With good working conditions, positive staff wellbeing and lower stress levels, there is more chance the pharmacy team will have the capacity to respond to unforeseen challenges and the resilience to bounce back from difficult events.

Have you seen an increase in pharmacists seeking help with wellbeing issues over the last year?

Our new website, launched in 2021, hosts our extensive library of digital resources. There have been over 33,000 visits to the new ‘I need help managing my…’ area of our website so far this year, and visits to our ‘Mental health and wellbeing’ pages and ‘Work life’ areas have increased by a third.

In 2021, thanks to a grant from the Covid-19 Healthcare Support Appeal (CHSA), we are now able to provide direct psychological support for those who are experiencing mental health issues. Through a new counselling partnership, we can fund up to twelve counselling sessions per person.

Since launching the scheme in May last year, we have provided over 650 counselling sessions to pharmacists, trainees and students struggling with a range of mental health issues – many of whom presented with trauma symptoms, arising either from their direct experience of working during the pandemic, and/or from previous experiences of trauma which the pandemic had re-triggered.

What resources and events are available for pharmacists to make use of during ACTNow campaign?

Across the four weeks, we will be sharing free, dedicated and exclusive Pharmacist Support wellbeing information and practical material specifically for pharmacy organisations, teams and individuals. This includes short panel chat videos with key figures across the sector and stories from our pharmacy family about their mental health and wellbeing journeys, guidance for managers to help support the pharmacy team, and resources for individuals to help prioritise individual mental health and wellbeing.

What else can pharmacists do to support their own wellbeing and that of their colleagues?

Wellbeing is something that you need to manage even in the good times. It’s really worth building it into your regular routine in order to steer you through and better manage during those challenging times. But when challenges do hit, we can support with that. We are here to assist people through any difficult times they may be facing, but ideally, if we can, we want to help prevent them from reaching that crisis point in the first place.

We really encourage pharmacists to visit our website and familiarise themselves with the wellbeing resources we have to offer, including online workshops, factsheets, videos, self-study modules, printable resources, and lots more. The charity is also in the process of developing some new wellbeing tools for managers and organisations to embed wellbeing practice into the workplace, that we shall be launching later in the year.

The Pharmacist Support ACTNow campaign runs from 25 September to 22 October. Sign up to the Pharmacist Support ACTNow campaign to access a range of wellbeing resources to support yourself and your team.