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Pharmacy Training

Healthy Living Pharmacy Mental Health – Free Training

By October 25, 2019 January 21st, 2020 No Comments

MediaPharm’s HLP: Mental Health Training Course

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.

Buy the HLP: Mental Health Training Course now or go to the free access course here.

Overall aim 

This course will help you to advise and support customers and patients with their mental health and show you how to make the most of national campaigns.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course you will be able to:

  • Recognise the role of pharmacy in supporting patients and customers with mental health disorders
  • Promote your pharmacy’s expertise and availability to customers through POS 
  • Open up conversations and ‘normalise’ mental health conditions
  • Signpost customers to further support


This course will take you approximately 20 minutes to complete. Any videos are additional and optional but have been included to accommodate different learning styles and to help enhance the learning.

Why is this course important? 

You will be able to promote the pharmacy as the place that customers and patients can come to for professional and accessible advice on mental health, that is open-minded and non-judgmental and which helps the health and wellbeing of your whole community.

What: Mental health: the pharmacy context

Mental health is starting to get as much prominence as physical health. Many campaigns and charities are now raising awareness of this to try and remove the stigma and embarrassment that is often associated with this ‘invisible’ condition.

The pharmacy sees people of all ages and those who are both well and unwell. This means the team can offer a range of help and support, whether it is around prescribed medicines for their mental health condition, signposting to support groups or recognising early stages of mental health like depression and anxiety and starting the conversation so they can be referred appropriately.

Understanding mental health

Mental health conditions are not always easily recognisable like a physical condition. It can range from stress, anxiety and depression through to long-term illness like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Eating disorders, alcohol, drug misuse and even hoarding are all mental health disorders. The range is vast, just as the range of physical disorders are vast. Go to Mind for a brief overview of mental health problems.

Common statistics include:

  • A mental illness can take 15 to 20 years off a person’s life.
  • Compared to the general population, people with a mental health condition are:
    • almost x2 as likely to die from coronary heart disease.
    •  x4 more likely to die from respiratory disease.
    • are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

Breaking stigmas

People often don’t want to talk about their mental health because of the stigma attached. In fact, 9 out of 10 people with mental health conditions experience stigma and discrimination.

You need to recognise how you perceive mental health.  Once you do that you’re more able to understand, empathise and listen to your customers and patients and they in turn will feel more comfortable to open up.  And this understanding can also be shared with concerned friends and family who come to you for advice about a loved one. An open-minded and non-judgmental culture in the pharmacy is key.

Why: Why this interest in mental health?

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime.  The cost of mental ill-health to the economy, NHS and society is estimated at £105 billion a year. 

As a result, The Five Year Forward View For Mental Health, a report published by NHS England in 2016, put together a multi-pronged strategy, that included pharmacy, to help tackle this public health issue. 

The three main recommendations to improving care were through:

  • Prevention
  • Expansion of mental health care 
  • Integrated physical and mental health care

The NHS has pledged to invest over £1 billion a year of additional funding by 2020/21 to reach one million more people. 

How: Teamwork

There are a number of ways the pharmacy can help offer customers help and support. Have a chat with other members of the team to find out what the pharmacy as a whole can do and what roles and responsibilities you can individually take on board. The following are examples.

Promoting the pharmacy’s expertise

  • Make it obvious with POS that the pharmacy is a ‘mental health friendly’ place so customers know the pharmacy is always available for advice on mental health – take the same approach as ‘dementia friends’ and transfer some of the techniques used there to mental health.
  • Have a list of mental health charities and local support groups you can direct customers to.
  • Extend the support to families and friends of people affected.
  • Think about an outreach service e.g. talking to local schools, care homes, retirement clubs, mother and baby groups.

Offering medicines support

  • Offer an MUR or NMS to those that are on prescribed medicines for a mental health disorder.
  • Look out also for people using herbal medicines, such as St John’s Wort. Check this is appropriate for their needs and that they are not on prescribed medicines that could interact with them.

Targeting vulnerable patient groups

Some people are more vulnerable than others to mental health disorders. For example: 

  • Pregnant and new mothers e.g. hormonal changes may result in postnatal depression, postnatal psychosis, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  It could also just mean feeling low due to lack of sleep with a newborn. Pre-empt any issues by including mental health in your other advice about pregnancy and looking after a newborn. Mental health problems can affect as many as a fifth of women during pregnancy and up to the first year after the baby is born.
  • Children and young people e.g. some may be affected by hormone changes, transition between primary and secondary school, exams, pressures of social media, relationships at school or home. Be mindful of this when people are seeking advice about other related issues such as bed wetting, sleeping problems, anger and anxiety.
  • Older people e.g. illness, loss of independence, dementia, bereavement, loneliness. Loneliness affects one million older people and is linked to dementia and depression. You may pick up signs of these when patients are collecting their prescription. Having a friendly ‘chat’ will make them feel the pharmacy is genuinely ‘caring’ for them and will again encourage them to raise concerns.

Be aware of any safeguarding issues that might emerge and take appropriate action as set out in your SOPs. 

Expanding your Healthy Living Pharmacy (HLP) offer

HLP takes a holistic approach to wellbeing. When offering advice, remember that mental health and physical health are interconnected. For example, a physical illness such as a recent diagnosis of type 2 diabetes can lead to depression. Or mental ill-health such as chronic stress and anxiety can lead to a physical illness such as heart disease.  Pressure at work or home can also lead to anxiety and affect physical and mental health. 

An expanded HLP service:

  • Take a whole-person approach – help people living with mental health conditions by supporting them with other aspects of their health and wellbeing
  • Advice on healthy eating, exercise (this boosts mood and energy levels), sleep, relaxation (mindfulness), reducing alcohol 
  • Promote the 5 ways to wellbeing (see later)
  • Promote mental health as part of your HLP service with posters and leaflets and be sure to hook up with any local or national awareness campaigns 
  • Speak with your pharmacy’s health champion to find out if there are local priorities – e.g. supporting the mental health of children

Starting conversations

Because of the perceived stigma of mental health, some sufferers and carers may be embarrassed to talk about this. Show empathy and use the consultation skills you’ve developed before, for example:

  • Listen, make eye contact and respond sensitively and discreetly to the customer or patient
  • Use open questions like ‘how are you feeling?’ to help the customer open up
  • Don’t be dismissive or belittle how they’re feeling – so don’t say things like ‘it will pass’, ‘you’ll get over it soon’, ‘the children will soon take your mind off it’
  • Mirror the verbal and body language the customer is using to put them at ease

Brief interventions

Brief interventions are all about using opening lines that make an impact. 

You need a hook – e.g. national campaign, something you noticed, something the customer has alluded to in passing. 

Then you need to ASK, ADVISE, ASSIST. Click on each of the hotspots below to find out more.

Engaging customers

Making every contact count (MECC) is an approach to healthcare that encourages all those who have contact with the public to talk about their health and wellbeing. Pharmacy assistants working on the counter can make a huge difference here in picking up on mental health issues and signposting and referring appropriately, while those working with prescriptions can make sure people are taking their medicines correctly and reaping the full benefits of treatment. Here are a few examples of how pharmacy can engage:

Recognising and understanding mental health

    • See it from the other person’s point of view – try to understand what the customer is going through and the impact the condition has on their lives, work and relationships
    • Learn more about the impact of mental health –  watch videos or talk to team members about this and share experiences. Remember it could be you, a colleague or family member that has experienced a mental health problem.
    • Listen and allow the space and environment for a conversation and for the customer to open up so you can offer them the right support – it may be signposting or just lending an ear and remember to use the consultation room when needed.
    • Notice if there are changes in the appearance of your regular customers – not taking care of their appearance and hygiene can be a sign.

Every Mind Matters

Public Health England (PHE) is launching a new mental health campaign called ‘Every Mind Matters’ in October 2019. The campaign aims to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing by promoting a range of self-care actions. 

Materials are available for pharmacies to order or download from the PHE Campaign Resource Centre and include:

  • Pharmacy activation brief
  • Posters
  • Leaflets
  • Conversation start cards

All materials are embargoed until 7th October and must not be shared with the public until that date.

How pharmacy can get involved:

  • Embed the campaign’s digital media onto the pharmacy’s website, emails and social media sites
  • Screen the campaign film in the pharmacy – on a screen in the pharmacy while people wait, or at a dedicated awareness event
  • Become an ambassador for the campaign – raising awareness of the campaign to the community, explaining how it can help and pointing people to the support that is available.
  • Direct customers to the Every Mind Matters website

The pharmacy campaigns

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education (CPPE) have also both launched mental health campaigns to get pharmacy more involved. These help you give a pharmacy context to the Mind national campaign. 


Because the medicines used to treat mental health problems come with their own risks, the RPS wants pharmacists to bring their medicines expertise to tackle the complex medical needs of these people. 

 It is calling for: 

  • Empowering pharmacists to manage the physical health of people with mental health conditions (with access to their records)
  • Development of a service to support people newly prescribed an antidepressant
  • Enabling pharmacists in the community to better support people with mental health problems
  • Training more specialist mental health pharmacists to be part of a multidisciplinary team across care settings.

The RPS has also teamed up with other professional bodies and the Department of Health and Department for Education to create MindEd, an online information resource aimed at the families of children and young people and the elderly affected by mental health issues. These resources are also designed to be used by professionals (e.g. teachers, health professionals, police, social workers) to support their professional development.


The CPPE learning campaign shows how the whole pharmacy team can help support people living with mental health conditions. The CPPE training can be accessed here. They have also developed quick cards that can be used by the pharmacy team. See Course Resources later. 


PSNC has a  Healthy Living Pharmacy health promotion ideas for pharmacy teams, with one dedicated to mental health. The page contains links to resources and information for planning a health promotion event/campaign focusing on mental health and wellbeing.


Putting learning into action

  • Speak to your colleagues about how the pharmacy can help customers and patients with their mental health 
  • Familiarise yourself with the messages of the campaign
  • Make every contact count and promote mental health wellbeing to your customers
  • Demonstrate your expertise to customers by giving timely and valuable health advice


Access Mental Health Training Course from MediaPharm

This Healthy Living Pharmacy: Mental Health training course has everything you and your team need to get up to speed.

Access the HLP: Mental Health training course now