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Community pharmacies could offer mental health support to carers, say researchers

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Community pharmacies could offer mental health support to carers, say researchers

Forging links between community pharmacy services and social prescribing “could represent a framework to provide better support for carers for their mental health and wellbeing,” researchers have proposed.

In a commentary published on June 3 in the International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, four authors from the University of Newcastle’s school of pharmacy say that while the UK’s 5.3 million informal carers experience high levels of mental health issues they “can be forgotten patients within health and care services”.

They write that pharmacies are “increasingly recognised spaces for community-based mental health support” and cite previous social prescribing interventions “based in or involving community pharmacies”.

Drawing on previous research, they argue it is “not unreasonable to suggest that pharmacies are well placed to help identify and support those at risk of deterioration of their own mental health and wellbeing stemming from caring responsibilities”.

However, they note that “of the interventions to date, funding and remuneration for services have been variable and this may be a barrier moving forward to establishing impactful carer services”.

They write: “We postulate that the coming together of community pharmacy services and social prescribing could represent a framework to provide better support for carers for their mental health and wellbeing.

“The design and specificity of any pharmacy-based carer services needs to be founded on evidence but could include pharmacies as a place for the identification, signposting and/or prescribing for carers.

“We are suggesting that interventions should not solely be directly aimed at improving carers’ ability to care, but there should also be interventions in which the carers own mental health and wellbeing is the priority of the intervention although, it is possible that by improving carer health and wellbeing a consequence could be to also improve carer ability to care and indirectly patient outcomes.”

The authors add that “considerable work” will be needed “to understand more clearly the inextricable link between patient and carer health and wellbeing”.

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