The COVID-19 outbreak has had a profound knock-on effect on mental health during Lockdown.
Government data show that over 4 in 5 adults are worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life right now, with more than half saying it affected their wellbeing and nearly half reporting high levels of anxiety.
How can Community Pharmacy help with mental health during Lockdown?
The pharmacy can play a huge role in helping people manage their mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
The pharmacy team may be the only point of contact for some people, especially the elderly.
So, checking up on regular customers and passing on some of the mental wellbeing tips can have a positive effect on these people’s lives.
- Consider making phone calls to isolated patients: Have a quick chat and ask if they need anything else like loo roll or toothpaste.
- Work with local groups to identify those most at risk from isolation.
- Give guidance to your delivery drivers on those people you may be more concerned about.
Let customers know that your pharmacy is a ‘mental health friendly’ place and you’re here to support them.
Make sure your Healthy Living Pharmacy Mental Health display is easy to find and access. Counter staff can also point out the HLP stand to anyone they think may benefit. Dispenser staff can also add leaflets to prescriptions bags.
Some people may be uncomfortable to talk about their mental health during Lockdown. Therefore, picking up a leaflet to read at home might be the first step in seeking the help they need.
There are simple steps that can help anyone cope with isolation and maintain their mental health during Lockdown:
Basic things like showering, brushing your teeth and getting dressed each day can help. Feeling clean and separating daytime from nighttime help with establishing a routine, improving self-esteem and a healthy sleep pattern.
Eat well and stay hydrated
A healthy diet and enough water each day helps the brain function properly and can help improve our mood.
Exercise is important for a healthy body but it’s just as important for a healthy mind too. Daily exercise – even just a 30-minute walk – can make a big difference.
Find a buddy group
We can still connect with people through our phones and computers. You may already have a family chat group or a Slack channel with colleagues. Alternatively, reach out to your neighbours on Next Door or join a Fac
ebook group for people who share the same interests as you.
Be kind to yourself
Above all, give yourself a break! You don’t have to use lockdown to write a book or learn a new language. Don’t compare yourself to others and – if it helps – avoid social media altogether.
The Role of the Prescriptions Delivery Driver
For many people who are isolating because of their age or health, the delivery driver is now the face of the pharmacy. And that’s some big shoes to fill.
Speaking to the Pharmaceutical Journal, Clinical psychologist, Linda Blair says little gestures can make a big difference. Blair recommends those delivering medicines to people should stay long enough at the door to let the older person open it, and smile and have a chat.
Handshakes may be currently unacceptable but a smile and a cheery wave are a good substitute.
Or, a handwritten note along with the prescription bag is a little act of kindness that only takes a moment. But may have a positive effect for the patient that lasts for days.
What about the mental health of pharmacy workers?
It’s important to also remember the mental wellbeing of colleagues and yourself during these exceptionally challenging times. So take your own advice:
- Be open about your own mental health.
- Make your pharmacy a ‘mental health friendly’ for your colleagues too.
- Follow up on any concerns a colleague may have raised.
- Practice self-care.
How can Mediapharm help?
MediaPharm provides training for the Healthy Living Pharmacy: Mental Health. Our mental health training course is designed to get you and your team up to speed and helping patients as quickly as possible.
Our courses will help you to advise and support customers and patients with their mental health during Lockdown. Our training is online and flexible making it as easy as possible for pharmacy professionals to access alongside a demanding schedule.
This article was written on behalf of Mediapharm by Nicola Hasted from Pharmacy Mentor.