Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
How to Empower Professionals and the Public to Improve Mental Hea.pdf (2.97 MB)

How to Empower Professionals and the Public to Improve Mental Health Care: Exploring Educational Initiatives

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posted on 2020-12-03, 12:17 authored by Dolores KeatingDolores Keating

Irish mental health policy emphasises early intervention, interdisciplinary working, the recovery philosophy and, perhaps most importantly, partnership between healthcare professionals, patients, caregivers and the community. Pharmacists have frequent contact with people experiencing mental health problems but appear to lack the confidence to engage effectively in mental health care. This thesis explores how educational interventions can empower pharmacists and members of the public to better support people experiencing mental health problems. Pharmacy students were found generally to have positive attitudes towards mental illness and the provision of medicines optimisation services to people with mental illness. However, they express concerns about their confidence and competence to provide care for people with severe mental illness. A programme of educational reform included the involvement of patients and caregivers in mental health curriculum design for the Master of Pharmacy programme. The inclusion of self-care in the curriculum from the outset, the integration of mental and physical health education and the provision of communication skills training specific to mental health were their recommendations and were all implemented. The introduction of an experiential learning visit to a psychiatric hospital provided students with an appreciation for the patient experience and an insight into recovery-oriented care provided by multidisciplinary teams. Clinical practice guidelines are important educational tools for practicing clinicians, assimilating research evidence and providing recommendations for best practice. A systematic review yielded high quality guidelines to support medicines optimisation in the treatment of schizophrenia. A retrospective cohort study did not find these guidelines to influence prescribing practice for first episode psychosis, highlighting the need for more proactive educational interventions to implement best practice recommendations and the potential role of the pharmacist in achieving this as part of a multidisciplinary team. Finally, Mental Health First Aid, a public mental health educational initiative, was introduced to Ireland to enhance a community engaged approach to mental health care. Educational initiatives explored in this thesis have the potential to mobilise the pharmacy workforce, creating an opportunity for pharmacists to feel effective, confident and empowered to engage in mental health care.


First Supervisor

Prof Judith Strawbridge

Second Supervisor

Prof Mary Clarke


A thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2019.

Published Citation

Keating D. How to Empower Professionals and the Public to Improve Mental Health Care: Exploring Educational Initiatives [PhD Thesis]. Dublin: Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland; 2019.

Degree Name

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of award



  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

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