Mental Health Issues: Expanding the Role of the Community Pharmacist
The World Health Organization defines mental health as "a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”1 Therefore, it is essential for those who desire a well-balanced, productive, and meaningful life that they maintain a state of positive mental health. Those who have significant alterations in their thinking, mood, and/or behaviours resulting in impaired functioning are likely suffering from some form of mental illness.
It has been estimated that one in five Canadians will suffer from a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.2 Mental illnesses affect people from all walks of life and play no favourites when it comes to age, education, income level, or culture.2 Unfortunately, the stigma attached to mental health issues prevents a number of individuals from seeking help for their illness. Therefore, a significant mental illness care gap exists.
The good news is that, when identified, mental illnesses can be treated effectively. Community pharmacists are the most easily accessible healthcare professional. This scenario presents a unique opportunity to close the care gap by identifying individuals in need of mental health services who are not receiving them and/or to contribute to the care of those who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.
- World Health Organization. Mental health: A state of well-being; 2014. Available online at http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/. Accessed Nov. 25, 2015.
- Canadian Mental Health Association. Fast Facts about Mental Illness. Available online at http://www.cmha.ca/media/fast-facts-about-mental-illness/. Accessed Nov. 25, 2015.
Note: These references also appear in the reference section in Module 1.
Disclosures: The author and reviewers have no conflicts of interest to disclose.