Study Suggests How Pharmacists Can Improve Services for Patients with Mental Health Conditions

Leaders in health care reform, academic pharmacy and organized pharmacy recognize the opportunity that pharmacists have for providing services beyond what is traditional. Indeed, there are expectations by many for pharmacists to engage patients in direct care roles by providing medication therapy management or comprehensive medication management services. Helping individuals with mental health conditions make the best of their medications by assisting them in monitoring their mental health medication effectiveness is a key opportunity that all community pharmacists have available to them.

In collaboration with leaders from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), UConn School of Pharmacy Clinical Professor Charles F. Caley, president of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists Foundation and Professor Glen Stimmel of the University of Southern California, conducted the survey, “Characterizing the Relationship Between Individuals with Mental Health Conditions and Community Pharmacists.” The survey that found approximately 75 percent of individuals living with mental illness and their caregivers seldom or never receive safety or effectiveness monitoring assistance from community pharmacists. The greatest obstacle cited by 58 percent of survey respondents is the lack of private space in retail pharmacies to discuss medication issues, including side effects and drug interactions. Although 91 percent are very comfortable going to community pharmacies and 83 percent feel respected by their pharmacist, 43 percent nonetheless feel that they do not have a strong professional relationship with their pharmacist, oftentimes because of physical barriers in the pharmacy, multiple pharmacists on duty, or pharmacy technicians being their point of contact for prescription pick-up.

While earlier studies surveyed pharmacists’ perceptions of their attitudes toward and the services for patients with mental health conditions, “This groundbreaking survey reports the observations of those receiving services related to their mental health medications from community pharmacists. The findings identify important opportunities to expand the commitment of the pharmacy community to greater numbers of individuals living with mental illness,” said Dr. Caley.

The full report is available at cpnpfoundation.org/pharmacists and www.nami.org/pharmacists.