The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) is calling on healthcare officials to commission pharmacists to provide targeted support to people with mental health conditions.

The RPS launched a report today (6 June) asking the Government and NHS England to integrate pharmacists into services that help people suffering from mental health conditions.

It requested:

- Commissioning pharmacists to provide physical health monitoring and management of people with mental health conditions, with full access to patients’ record

- Identifying how they can better support people with their mental health medication

- Mental health teams to have access to a specialist mental health pharmacist to support them

The report comes after the RPS called for the New Medicine Service (NMS) to include antidepressants last week (29 May).


‘Shaming disparity in health’


RPS’s England board chair Sandra Gidley said that pharmacists can make ‘a huge difference’ to the mental health of their patients.

She continued: ‘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.

‘It’s crucial the Government and the NHS make the most of the pharmacy workforce to better support patients and commission services that integrate pharmacists into care pathways that better support patients.'

People suffering from mental health issues are more likely to die prematurely, with the life expectancy of a bipolar disorder person being 15-20 years less than the rest of the population, according to NHS England.

The RPS argued that, with many mental health medicines carrying health risks, pharmacists can help people get the best outcomes from these, reduce adverse events, minimise avoidable harm and un-planned hospital admissions.


Welcoming the initiative


Royal College of Psychiatrists’ psychopharmacology committee chair Professor David Baldwin welcomed the RPS's report.

He said: ‘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.

‘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.’