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J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2017 Mar - Apr;57(2):248-255. doi: 10.1016/j.japh.2016.12.066. Epub 2017 Jan 30.

Supporting patients with mental illness: Deconstructing barriers to community pharmacist access.



To discuss the barriers faced by individuals with mental health conditions attempting to access their community pharmacists and to propose solutions toward deconstructing those barriers.


Given the prevalence of mental illness and the frequency at which psychotropic medications are dispensed, community pharmacists have a daily opportunity to engage patients with mental illness and be active participants in community-based mental health care. Yet multiple barriers affect patient access to community pharmacists. Some barriers, such as heavy dispensing workload, can be considered as "external" to the pharmacist. Other barriers, such as negative attitudes about mental illness, are considered to be "internal." Research about mental illness stigma in pharmacy often reports that community pharmacists are uncomfortable with, or have little time for, mental health patients. Patients also report experiencing stigma from pharmacists and pharmacy staff. Expanded efforts are needed by the pharmacy profession to deconstruct barriers that patients with mental illness are faced with in community pharmacy, especially related to stigma. Specifically, these efforts should include critically evaluating and addressing the quality of didactic and experiential opportunities in psychiatric pharmacotherapy for pharmacy students, transforming the physical layout of community pharmacies to offer true counseling privacy, educating community pharmacists and pharmacy staff about mental illness, and educating patients about what to expect from community pharmacists.


There are opportunities for community pharmacy to improve its impact on mental health treatment outcomes by resolving mental illness stigma and other barriers that prevent patients with mental illness from accessing their community pharmacist.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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