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Boots supports community pharmacists become Mental Health First Aiders


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PDA encourages representatives at Boots to undertake Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training

Pharmacists, who are working on the frontline of healthcare, can play an important role in raising awareness about mental health and helping those experiencing poor mental health.

With this belief, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is encouraging its representatives at Boots to participate in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training offered by the company.

Nicola Rees, PDA Rep and Boots pharmacist from Solihull, who has recently undertaken training as a Mental Health First Aider, said that trained pharmacists can help in reducing the stigma associated with mental health and identifying the early warning signs that someone may be experiencing poor mental health.

Mental Health First Aid training enables pharmacists to “support individuals and signpost to sources of advice and support.”

Rees expressed that becoming a mental health first aider has empowered her and greatly increased her confidence in being able to support someone dealing with a mental health issue, such as having thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

Since the onset of Covid-19, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people feeling vulnerable and affected by mental ill health, stemming from trauma, bereavement, and social isolation. This trend is evident within the pharmacy setting, Rees said.

“In healthcare, we can often focus on physical symptoms, and having undertaken the training, I am now more aware of the signs of where mental health could be an underlying issue or contributory factor,” said Rees, adding that she will use this knowledge and training daily to support patients.

Rees believes that this training will enable her to better support her colleagues during periods when they may be experiencing heightened stress or anxiety.

She believes that having more mental health first aiders could greatly benefit the pharmacy workplace, considering the stressors such as workload pressure and instances of violence and abuse that can impact the environment.

The training has personally helped Rees maintain her own mental health and well-being. Therefore, she encourages more people to take the training, especially those working on the frontline of healthcare.

As a Mental Health First Aider, a pharmacist is not trained to offer counselling or therapy, but it enables them to confidently navigate someone to help and support.




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