More than three-quarters (80%) of 99 pharmacy professionals responding to a recent survey said the work pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted on their mental health.

The survey, which covered pharmacy finances, services and staff, ran on the Pharmacist’s website between 2 March and 12 April, and the full findings will be published next week.

But to mark Mental Health Awareness week 2021, we are today sharing some of the accounts pharmacists and other staff shared with us about their experiences over the past year:  

‘Incredibly tough’ year

Commenting on the findings, Danielle Hunt, chief executive of Pharmacist Support, said that charity was ‘acutely aware’ of the negative impact of the pandemic on pharmacy teams.

‘The figures from the latest research carried out by the Pharmacist echo that of our own research around workforce wellbeing that we conducted with the RPS at the end of 2020, whereby 85% of those who responded said the pandemic had impacted their mental health either partially or to a significant extent,’ she said.

‘As the profession’s charity, we rely on vital insights like these to help inform and develop our support. As such, we have recently launched a new free and confidential counselling service to help any pharmacist, trainee or student who may be struggling emotionally or psychologically.’

She added: ‘We believe working together to encourage better mental health awareness and practice across the pharmacy sector is crucial to ensuring our pharmacy family feels supported and want to continue in their roles.’

Robbie Turner, director of pharmacy and member services at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said the pandemic had been ‘incredibly tough’ on pharmacy teams.

‘While pressures on the pharmacy profession are not new, they have certainly been compounded and magnified by the pandemic. Tackling the root causes of poor mental health in the workplace is now critical,’ he said.

‘That’s why RPS has made the prevention of poor wellbeing a priority and is calling on Governments, NHS bodies, employers and pharmacy bodies across Great Britain to take action. A focus on demand on the profession, long working hours, inadequate staffing levels and regular and routine breaks are just some of the areas that need urgent attention.’

He added that initiatives introduced during the pandemic – such as flexible opening hours and access to NHS occupational health support – should be ‘routinely adopted’ going forward.