World Mental Health Day takes place on 10th October, and this year the focus is on suicide prevention. In 2018 there were over 6,500 deaths by suicide in the UK alone. Suicide is considered a serious public health problem that can be caused by a range of other mental health issues, but it can be very preventable with the right early intervention and having effective mental health support systems in place.
Just as we all have physical health, everyone has mental health; it relates to your emotional, psychological and social wellbeing and ability to cope with life’s challenges and stresses. Statistics show that women are far more likely than men to be diagnosed with a mental health problem, but, conversely, men account for over three-quarters of all suicides. Effective mental health support, for men in particular it would seem, is clearly lacking. Mental health problems can range hugely from more common problems such as stress, depression or anxiety to rarer conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder. Things such as bereavement, stress, or sleep problems also affect our mental health. One in six adults suffer with some form of mental health problem in the UK every week, so we will all likely come across someone dealing with a mental health problem on a daily basis, which is especially important to remember when working in healthcare.
Community pharmacy is ideally placed to support people who are suffering with mental health problems. By recognising the signs of poor mental health, pharmacists can reach out and offer some support or guidance that might be desperately needed. Whilst people are increasingly seeking help for mental health related problems, it is estimated that nearly 75% of people in England do not have access to the treatment they need, so ensuring patients know that their local pharmacy can be a support resources to them is invaluable. Numark recently launched a Mental Health Hub to support our members in running effective mental health campaigns in order to help community pharmacies establish themselves as a support system that the public feel comfortable turning to if they need help or advice.
Whilst it’s important for community pharmacy to play its part in providing customers with help and advice, it’s also important to ensure pharmacy teams themselves are supported in their workplace. Pharmacy is going through a particularly difficult period at the moment, with pressures mounting and funds decreasing. It’s understandable that these increasing challenges can take a huge toll on mental health, particularly if someone is already dealing with another mental health problem. It is essential to understand the signs of stress and anxiety and establish a work culture where staff feel comfortable raising concerns.
Promoting mental wellbeing at work is not only important for the pharmacy team, but it’s also vital for the success of your business. Poor mental health within the staff can result in a reduction of productivity, sick days, and an increase in workload and staff turnover. Mental ill health costs UK businesses approximately £34.9 billion each year, so it’s hugely important to make sure your team are supported and listened to at work.
At Numark we aim to support our members in every area so pharmacies can continue to run effectively and efficiently, and this includes mental health. As well as offering support on running a mental health campaign, we have similar resources focusing on mental wellbeing at work, with information and advice on how to encourage positive mental health and support staff who need it. We can’t do anything about the changes happening within pharmacy, but we will always work to ensure the support our members need is always provided.
This World Mental Health Day, take the opportunity to not only raise awareness with your customers, but also with the pharmacy team, and see if there are ways you can develop support and improve the mental wellbeing of the whole workplace.
For more information on mental health and resources on how to run a campaign in your pharmacy, see our Mental Health Hub.