Mental health campaign launched in more than 500 community pharmacies

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Northern Ireland’s Interim Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, has launched the “How Are You Feeling?” mental health campaign today in her local community pharmacy.

The campaign will run throughout April and May and is part of the ‘Living Well’ service that provides information and advice to customers on public health issues in over 500 pharmacies across Northern Ireland. It is delivered in partnership with the Public Health Agency (PHA), Community Pharmacy NI (CPNI), the Department of Health (DoH), and the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB).

By asking the question “How are you feeling?”, the campaign urges people to think about their mental health, and take the five steps to wellbeing.

The ‘Take 5 steps to Wellbeing’ are Connect; Be Active; Take Notice; Keep Learning and Give.

Community pharmacies across Northern Ireland have taken delivery of posters and information booklets, which are free to members of the public. The booklet is packed with lots of activities and ideas of how to build ‘Take 5’ into everyday life, as well as providing information on services that can provide help and support, both online and in the local community.

One of the key aspects of the campaign is to encourage pharmacists to put people in touch with local networks and services in their community that can provide support based on their individual needs.

Professor Siobhan O’Neill said of the campaign: “The impact of COVID-19 has had a profound effect on our wellbeing, and many of us have had periods of worry and loneliness over the past year. The pandemic has affected our work, family and social lives, and it is therefore so important that we look after our wellbeing, and connect with the people around us. Simply asking “How are you feeling?” can mean the world to someone who is struggling; it opens up opportunities to discuss ways of embedding self-care and positive habits into our daily lives. The ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’ are simple, but powerful activities, and the research shows that they improve our mental health and wellbeing.

“Pharmacies are a trusted and safe place in communities, and the staff are well placed to signpost people with mental health concerns to effective support. So I am delighted to endorse this campaign.”

Olive MacLeod Chief Executive at the Public Health Agency said: “It has been a tough year with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing has been immense for many in our society. The Public Health Agency continues to work in partnership with Community Pharmacy NI, the Health and Social Care Board and the Department of Health to address the importance of early intervention and prevention to help people look after their mental wellbeing needs before they affect their quality of life, and equipping people with the support to deal with challenges. We hope the Living Well mental health campaign will help people build resilience and give them the tools to help themselves now and in the future.”

Gerard Green, Chief Executive at Community Pharmacy NI said: “Community pharmacies are at the heart of our local communities with the public recognising pharmacists as trusted healthcare professionals. This makes community pharmacy the ideal platform to help encourage people to look after their mental health by engaging in initiatives such as ‘Take 5 steps to wellbeing’.”

Patrick McCallion from Lloyds Pharmacy added: “Lloyds Pharmacy is delighted to be taking part in the Living Well campaign. “How are you feeling?”, is a question we ask many of our customers every day and some have certainly been struggling over these past few months with the impact of the pandemic on their mental wellbeing. We are pleased we can provide them with practical advice around how to use ‘Take 5 Steps’ in their daily lives and signpost them to information and support in our local area.”

To find out more about the “How Are you Feeling?” campaign and the supports and resources being promoted as part of the campaign visit www.mindingyourhead.info



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