8 ways to show support for those with mental illness


Embrace the 1 in 5 adults dealing with mental illness

In brief:

  • About 44 million American adults experience mental illness yearly and around 20% of teenagers live with a mental illness.1
  • The stigma still associated with mental illness can isolate people and hamper getting treatment.2
  • Consider eight ideas for supporting people dealing with mental health issues.

As customers walk into your pharmacy, remember that about 1 in 5 will have a mental illness this year.3 For those who aren’t personally dealing with mental illness, they have family members or friends who are suffering.

See these infographics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America with facts about the prevalence of mental health issues in America.

By sensitively addressing mental health in your marketing and communications, your pharmacy can help remove the stigma that isolates people and can delay treatment. Showing that your pharmacy cares about mental health issues can make individuals more comfortable discussing their conditions with you.

Here are eight ways your pharmacy can show support for patients with mental illness:

  1. Share resources. Offer a place where people can find support groups for a range of conditions, from AA meetings to equine therapy. Create a bulletin board for cards and flyers or a printed directory. Tip: A directory of community resources may already exist that you can provide.
  2. Open your meeting space. If your pharmacy has a meeting area, allow groups to use it, such as support groups for pregnant women and new moms. According to Postpartum Support International, as many as 1 in 10 women may suffer anxiety or depression during pregnancy, and 15% experience postpartum depression.4
  3. Provide training. If your pharmacy hosts CPR training, also consider hosting QPR training for suicide prevention, which teaches people how to Question, Persuade and Refer when someone may be thinking about suicide.
  4. Participate in Mental Health Month. Find resources and topics from Mental Health America. The theme this year is Fitness #4Mind4Body.
  5. Educate the public. Use your voice on your pharmacy’s media channels, from Facebook to a column in the local newspaper, to express support for and bust myths about mental illness.
  6. Lead the community. Work with other local leaders to start a community conversation about mental health. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration offers resources, including discussion guides in Spanish for your personal use.
  7. Become a “Safe Zone.” By completing training on how to talk to and be supportive of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning) people, you can display a “Safe Zone” sign, indicating that your pharmacy is accepting of individuals who are nearly three times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
  8. Offer specialty gifts. From greeting cards to T-shirts, a wide range of products offer messages for people dealing with mental illness, and even return a portion of the proceeds to charities.5 For example, NYC offers buttons, tote bags, mugs and more with the slogan, “Don’t Be Paranoid, You Look Great.” See the Mighty’s Gift Guide for Giving Back to the Mental Health Community.

In your pharmacy’s marketing plans, look for ways to show that your business openly supports patients with mental illness. You can illustrate this message based on the signs you display and messages you post on social media.

With such a large population of individuals either directly dealing, or have family members suffering, from mental illness, it’s crucial for healthcare professionals to understand how to best interact with these patients. Help make them feel more secure by showing them they are not alone, and that you and the rest of your pharmacy’s staff stand with them and support them. This will not only help keep your patients healthy, but will also help with developing relationships with your patients.

1 “Mental Health by the Numbers,” National Alliance on Mental Illness. LINK
2 “Attitudes Toward Mental Illness,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012. LINK
3 “Mental Health Facts in America,” National Alliance on Mental Illness. LINK
4 “Depression During Pregnancy and Postpartum,” Postpartum Support International. LINK
5 “The Mighty’s Gift Guide for Giving Back to the Mental Health Community,” Jordan Davidson, The Mighty, Dec. 12, 2017. LINK

Note: The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for, the content provided herein.