Directory connects pharmacies and mental health patients

September 30, 2016

A project that began a few years ago has resulted in a new, nationwide directory of pharmacies.

A project that began a few years ago has resulted in a new, nationwide directory of pharmacies that specialize in mental health medications and services.

The College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) Foundation this month launched the Mental Health Pharmacy Directory, a searchable directory of about 900 mental health pharmacies.

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Charles Caley, PharmD“There are potential obstacles that can prevent pharmacists and individuals with mental illness from engaging with each other. Whether that is to ask a question about a medication, or a patient getting active support to better understand how the medication will help their symptoms, [engagement] is not happening as frequently as it should,” said Charles Caley, PharmD, past president of the CPNP and clinical professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.

The directory was developed in response to a national survey of individuals with mental illness who were asked about their experiences with pharmacists. Around 75% said they seldom or never received assistance from their pharmacist in monitoring the effectiveness or safety of their medication. Plus, 58% of respondents said their biggest concern is the lack of private space in pharmacies for individuals to discuss a medication issue with the pharmacist.

“The realities of high prescription volumes and busy, non-private environments makes it difficult for many individuals to access the knowledge, skill, and support of pharmacists,” Caley said. “Active support can lead to better treatment outcomes.”

The CPNP Foundation defines a mental health pharmacy as one that meets a number of criteria, including providing on-site assistance and education about psychiatric medications, communicating with mental health care providers to resolve medication-related problems, dispensing special mental health medications such as clozapine or long-acting injectable antipsychotics, and motivating adherence by providing patients with individualized medication reminder packages, devices, or delivery schedules.

 

Caley said while mental health pharmacies are not an organized sub-specialty within pharmacy: “It is a very well-recognized business model and there are both chains and independents that actively promote their business.”

Because mental health pharmacy is not organized – and often not identified as such on the internet – CPNP has relied on “grassroots efforts” to identify pharmacies in the directory. “These types of pharmacies exist in places you wouldn’t first think of to look for,” Caley said.

For example, Genoa embeds pharmacies in mental health centers and some Safeway pharmacies administer injections of long-acting anti-psychotics.

Pharmacies that provide mental health services love being listed in the free directory, according to Caley. “We have 900 to 950 pharmacies listed right now and the goal is to increase that number.”