Mental health: How can your community pharmacist help?

Published in For the Health of It Author: Jenna Gullickson, PharmD

Ambulatory Care Pharmacist
CentraCare Health – Internal Medicine Clinic, River Campus

Approximately 20 percent of Americans live with a mental illness and 16.7 percent of people living in the United States take a medication for a mental health condition. Most of these medications work best when taken every day. However, people with mental health conditions have lower rates of taking medications as prescribed. Reports of patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder not taking their medications as prescribed have been as high as 61 percent.

Common obstacles include not picking up medications from the pharmacy, taking medications differently than prescribed and stopping medications because of side effects, cost or personal beliefs. 

Your community pharmacist is a great resource for you in terms of improving your health. Consider talking with your pharmacist the next time you pick up your prescriptions.

Your pharmacist can provide you with the following:

  • Medication education: A one-on-one consultation includes reviewing why you’re taking a medication, how to use the medication properly, how long it may take to notice an effect from the medication and potential side effects. Your pharmacist can answer any other questions you may have about your medications.
  • Medication management: If you fill all your prescriptions at the same pharmacy, your pharmacist knows and understands how your medications work together. Your pharmacist can review your current medication list to determine whether any of your medications may be causing a change in your mood or an undesired side effect. You may learn how to manage a side effect or information about a medication-related problem that you or your pharmacist can address with your health care team. 
  • Mental health screening: Some pharmacies may offer screening tools to identify and evaluate your mental health. This is a convenient way to monitor your mental health.
  • Access to resources: Your pharmacist can provide you with contact information to local mental health providers, clinics and hotlines.

Community pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals and are well positioned to positively impact mental health. If you have a mental health condition — or any condition for that matter — you can benefit greatly from talking with your pharmacist about your medications.