The role of pharmacy has been given due place in the new Mental Health Strategy 2021-2031 launched by Health Minister Robin Swann on 29 June. This is a positive result for the Forum’s advocacy work carried out on behalf of the entire NI pharmacy profession.

In March 2021, the Forum responded to the DoH consultation on the draft strategy, citing concerns over the omission of medical intervention and requested the issue be addressed. The new strategy sets out 35 actions under three overarching themes.

In the first instance, the role of pharmacy is referenced under community mental health and considered within the context of Action 15 of the strategy:

The reorganisation of mental health services towards the community will also mean fully involving those who deliver wider health and social care functions across Northern Ireland. The accessibility of community pharmacy and their relationship with their local populations, including individuals suffering from mental ill health, means that they can play a vital role in providing accessible services to support people’s mental health.

Critically, under Theme 2: Providing the right support at the right time, Medicines in Mental Health is clearly referenced under Action 18 and a pledge is outlined to “increase the use of pharmacists in mental health services to help ensure the best use of mental health medication.”

Read the new Northern Ireland Mental Health Strategy 2021 – 2031

Read the Forum’s response to the DoH consultation on the Draft Mental Health Strategy 2021-2031