This is a campaign letter for the 2021 RPS national pharmacy board elections. The views expressed in this letter belong to the author. Find out more about the RPS elections.
How are you? How are you really?
Firstly, thank you. Thank you for everything you are doing. Being a pharmacist has never been an easy role, but I know that it has been particularly challenging over the past year.
The past year has been incredibly overwhelming, with worries and concerns for family as well as patients.
The mental health of pharmacists is really important to me. Prompted by RPS Board Members, including myself, the RPS has recognised that there is a very concerning problem at the very heart of our profession.
In the RPS Mental Health and Wellbeing Survey 2020, 72% of respondents reported that their work had negatively impacted their mental health and wellbeing, with reasons including workload, inadequate staffing, long hours and a lack of work–life balance. Furthermore, a third of respondents had considered leaving their job in the past year, and another third had considered leaving the pharmacy profession entirely.
This cannot carry on. This is a very real, burning issue for the profession. Pharmacists should not be worried about going to work. It is extremely concerning that 80% of the workforce was at high risk of burnout and that many workplace cultures were not conducive to positive mental health and wellbeing. Even more concerning is where this leaves our profession. How can we care for others if we are being made unwell by our roles?
I am adamant that the RPS must do more to support the mental health of pharmacists.
This is an area of work I am extremely passionate about and which I have increasingly brought to the agenda at English pharmacy board meetings. There is already important work being done by the newly formed Workplace Wellbeing groups.
A concerted effort is needed to ensure that pharmacists feel professionally supported and that they are not made to feel unwell by their work. We shouldn’t be scared or worried of taking a break. We need to be enabled to look after our mental health and that of our colleagues. Furthermore, a pharmacy roundtable is urgently required so that pharmacy organisations can work together to make the mental health of pharmacists a priority.
Our profession depends on it.
Thorrun Govind, election candidate, English pharmacy board, Royal Pharmaceutical Society