Thursday, June 13, 2024

Continuing the Focus on Mental Health

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Although May is over, and with it Mental Health Awareness month, pharmacy teams can continue to not only focus on their patients’ mental health needs but also reflect on their own mental well-being.

Image credit: Chanintorn.v | stock.adobe.com

A recent CVS Health survey found that most adults in the US have significant mental health concerns, and this has grown steadily since 2020. The survey, conducted between March 19 and March 21, 2024, included a total of 2202 adults and found that reported numbers of adults who have significant mental health concerns increased by an estimated 6% since 2022 and 15% since 2020.1

Health care workers are also facing similar issues, with mental health challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, workloads, staffing shortages, challenging patients, and more. Researchers have found that as pharmacists stepped up to be frontline health care workers, they also experienced high levels of burnout, anxiety, depression, and stress.2

In a cross-sectional study, 47% of pharmacists surveyed reported medium or high levels of burnout, and half attributed their burnout to the pandemic. Further, more than 80% of those surveyed reported that their burnout lasted up to a year.

Although, of course, self-care measures can be useful, a growing body of work calls for health care leadership to address systemic issues contributing to these mental health challenges. Organizational cultures that are supportive of wellness have been shown to improve individual pharmacy staff members’ mental well-being and require leaders to be actively engaged in promoting and role modeling wellness. For instance, organizations can establish chief wellness officers with sufficient resources, clinicians with more flexibility, family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave, reasonable workloads, encouraged time off, and mental health programming tailored to pharmacists.3

Of course, addressing patients’ needs will always be at the forefront of pharmacists’ minds. In this issue, author Amie Stephens, PharmD, MHA, writes about community pharmacists’ vital role in addressing social determinants of health. By listening carefully and asking follow-up questions, pharmacists can identify patients in need of assistance and provide crucial resources.

Elsewhere, in the MTM Consult article, author Jennifer Gershman, PharmD, CPh, PACS, discusses how pharmacists can counsel patients in the weeks leading up to summer, as vacations are rapidly approaching. In addition to sunscreen selection and proper usage, pharmacists can remind patients to stay up to date on travel vaccines when necessary.

While perusing this issue, we invite you to take a moment to reflect on your own mental well-being. To provide the best care for patients, pharmacists (and technicians) must first care for themselves.

As always, thank you for reading.

References
1. CVS Health/Morning Consult survey finds mental health concerns increase substantially among Americans of all backgrounds. News release. CVS Health; May 2, 2022. Accessed May 14, 2024. https://www.cvshealth.com/news/mental-health/cvs-health-morning-consult-survey-finds-mental-health-concerns.html
2. Ishaky L, Sivanthan M, Tadrous M, et al. Pharmacists’ mental health during the first two years of the pandemic: a socio-ecological scoping review. Pharmacy (Basel).2023;11(2):64. doi:10.3390/pharmacy11020064
3. Melnyk BM, Hsieh AP, Tan A, et al. The state of health, burnout, healthy behaviors, workplace wellness support, and concerns of medication errors in pharmacists during the COVID-19 pandemic. J Occup Environ Med. 2023;65(8):699-705. doi:10.1097/JOM.0000000000002889

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