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Rosalind Franklin University College of Pharmacy
Making Mental Health a Priority

by David Courteau, PS-3, ICHP Member, Rosalind Franklin University College of Pharmacy

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide.”1 In light of this disturbing statistic, the International Association for Suicide Prevention collaborated with the WHO in 2003 to develop a World Suicide Prevention Day. This awareness day is observed annually on September 10th. Locally, Rosalind Franklin University (RFU) participates in National Suicide Prevention Week, which encompasses the week surrounding World Suicide Prevention Day. This year, with the efforts of our college’s Student National Pharmaceutical Association (SNPhA) chapter, students are encouraged to share positive notes and favorite quotes on social media platforms using the hashtag “#keepgoing”.

Mental health is equally as important for our patients as it is for their healthcare providers. To increase awareness, the SSHP chapter at RFU has developed a Mental Wellness Chair position that will strive to ensure our student body is confident in recognizing mental health warning signs. The Mental Wellness Chair will be responsible for connecting with guest speakers to discuss holistic treatment approaches in achieving mental well-being. Additionally, our chapter’s Mental Wellness Chair hopes to shed light on the pharmacists role in psychiatry by educating students from a resident and practicing pharmacist’s point-of-view. We are excited to see how this position will affect local advancements in mental health stigma-reduction efforts, as well as regional partnerships with other local colleges of pharmacy!

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic remaining in full-force, the Student Counseling Services at RFU have remodeled their delivery of care to ensure mental health services go uninterrupted. With the utilization of HIPAA-compliant platforms, telepsychology sessions allow licensed clinicians on our campus to ensure no student is lost to follow-up. Furthermore, clinicians have expanded their appointment hours to accommodate for the dynamic schedules with remote learning. To complement mental health, the Office of Fitness and Recreation at RFU highlights the importance of “wellness” throughout these unprecedented times. With the goal of improving psychological balance, weekly “Mindfulness Meditation” sessions are held virtually via Zoom for any student who is seeking to achieve stress-reduction or improve focus techniques. Additionally, these sessions are recorded for campus-wide community access.

While the end of this pandemic remains obscure, the RFU student body remains resilient and adaptable. It is with great hope that our profession can be a key player in the preventative vaccination efforts against COVID-19. In the meantime, however, it is crucial that current and future healthcare professionals ensure their mental health is effectively addressed. We can all play a part, whether it be advocating for national suicide prevention or developing a Mental Wellness Chair in your local SSHP chapter! ■

  1. World Suicide Prevention Day. World Health Organization. Published 2019. Accessed September 5, 2020.



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