Mental health pharmacy can be an extremely rewarding specialism to go into; working with people living with mental illness is at the heart of the what we do.
Working in mental health means applying and extending your knowledge as a pharmacy professional to help people living with mental illness. Many of our members are working in specialist mental health settings, such as mental health NHS trusts, while others are working for community, acute or other health organisations, with a particular focus on mental health or learning disabilities.
If you would like to find out more about general pharmacy roles in health you could look at information published on the Health Careers website: Careers in pharmacy
Roles in mental health
If you are interested in the experience of other pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working in mental health, you may be interested in the following articles:
- Nikki Holmes is head of pharmacy for forensic services at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. Here she talks to Julia Robinson in the Pharmaceutical Journal about forensic mental health, how she entered the field and why she could never go back to “normal” pharmacy: How pharmacist Nikki Holmes helps mental health patients on their journey from high secure services to recovery
- Caroline Parker is Consultant Pharmacist Adult Mental Health, Central & North West London NHS Foundation Trust. She shared her experience of developing a career in mental health in this Pharmaceutical Journal interview from 2013: http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/build-a-career-in-psychiatric-pharmacy/11117787.article
- Juliet Shepherd is a mental health pharmacist at the Wye Valley NHS Trust. In a blog post from 2015, she gives insights into her typical day: http://www.hospitalpharmacyeurope.com/home-care/blog-day-life-mental-health-pharmacist
- Joanne Woodward is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the 5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and NIHR/HEE MClinRes student at The University of Manchester. She has written for us about her experience: How I became a Pharmacy Technician Researcher
- Neelam Sharma is Chief Pharmacy Technician at the Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. She writes (in 2020) about pharmacy technicians adding value to mental health services: https://hospitalpharmacyeurope.com/news/reviews-research/pharmacy-technicians-adding-value-to-mental-health-services-a-personal-perspective/
In the words of one of our members:
"The role can be challenging mentally, physically and emotionally, but you work with an individual and play a part in their therapy to help them move from a point in their life where they suffer distress or impairment that affects their ability to work, care, function and live. Your work with the individual might be temporary in part, but you will often work with that individual for many months or years – where you can see real change and true benefit to the individual – the individual as a person, not just an illness.
" Working with an individual and being part of helping them to reach a point in their life where they can live more freely and have more value in their own life is the most rewarding job I could ever hope to have."
Mental health for non-specialists
We believe it is valuable for all pharmacy professionals to build their understanding of mental health conditions. Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians are often a first port of call for minor ailments, and could find themselves being asked about more serious conditions.
We recommend that all pharmacy professionals consider mental health first aid training.
- In England: Mental Health First Aid England
- In Scotland: http://www.smhfa.com
- In Wales: www.mhfa-wales.org
- In Northern Ireland: https://www.aware-ni.org/mental-health-first-aid.html
- In Ireland: www.MHFAIreland.ie
- For an international directory: https://mhfa.com.au/cms/international-mhfa-programs
Non-specialist pharmacy professionals, or mental health pharmacy professionals with limited experience, may also find our two-day Psych 1 course of benefit: Psych 1.