More than Dispensers
Posted by: Gerald “Pharmacist Jerry” Finken, RPh, MS; Contributor, Meghan Mosser
Photo credit: Foundations Recovery Network
Mental Health Awareness has skyrocketed due to multiple factors such as the TV show 13 Reasons Why, celebrity suicides and the #MeToo movement. Dr. Marc Siegel recently published an article for Fox News that details how health professionals can help. However, he discusses the role of the physician heavily in the article meanwhile forgetting the pharmacist.
Days after Dr. Siegel released his article a different article came out in NPR claiming that depression is a possible side effect of many medicaitons. Roughly 1 in 3 adults take a prescription that can be linked to depression. This issue is immediately associated with the prescriber/doctor.
But think about it. A patient only goes to see their doctor every year, maybe every six months, yet they visit their pharmacist monthly. The pharmacist is the expert on medications, side effects included. They understand certain medications cause depression and anxiety, which may not be smart for some patients. More often than not, this skill set is forgotten. It is instead given to the doctor, who ultimately sees the patient less.
This is a common issue in the pharmacy realm. Pharmacists are still viewed as dispensers, nothing more and nothing less. Yet they hold a specific skill set that could help patients feel better faster. This begs the question, should pharmacists be the ones screening for mental health? Should they be trained in deciphering the signs of suicide and depression? They create deep relationships with their patients. Their patients trust them and see them monthly, at least, giving the pharmacist the ability to watch for signs of abnormal mental health.
Pharmacists are the ones who would be able to notice a change in a patient, like sadness, and change a medication quickly. They know the best medication for each specific patient based on the patient’s medical records and their relationship with them. This could solve the issue of mental health going unnoticed in an abundance of patients.
Pharmacists could be game changers when it comes to mental health awareness, but will they ever get the chance?