According to the findings of the South African Stress and Health study, as many as 1 in every 4 South Africans suffer from some form of mental illness. Many of these illnesses can be diagnosed in patients as young as 14 years old. Yet, the majority of South Africans suffering are not receiving treatment. This is often because of a fear of appearing weak or being considered crazy. During September, while we celebrate Pharmacy Month, we want to encourage the public to seek help and assistance via education and awareness programmes that highlight that it is OK not to be OK, and we invite all pharmacy professionals to embrace this opportunity to create awareness regarding mental health issues in their own communities.
As a profession, Pharmacy can assist in destroying the taboo surrounding mental illness by educating patients and community members about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and encouraging those experiencing problems to seek out professional help. Patients visit pharmacies far more often than they visit any other healthcare professional and it is important to use these opportunities to assist patients through continual monitoring and discussions.
The SAPC encourages all pharmacy professionals to embrace the theme for this year’s Pharmacy Month and to engage with their communities in the battle against mental illness.
The poster for Pharmacy Month will be available for download from the following websites:
Follow the conversation and upload your Pharmacy Month initiatives on social media using the tag #PharmMonth2019. For your Pharmacy Month activities to be featured in ePharmaciae, send a short write-up (one to two paragraphs) and images of Pharmacy Month interventions to Elmari.Venter@sapc.za.org.