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“There's very little that you can do other than refer them to the doctor if you think they've got postnatal depression”: Scoping the potential for perinatal mental health care by community pharmacists

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Sergio A. Silverio, Mohammed Rezwanur Rahman, Claire Wilson, Raquel Catalao, Shivali Lakhani, Marsha Alter, Martina Khundakar, Asia N. Rashed, John Weinman, Angela Flynn

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-292
Number of pages7
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number2
Early online date18 Oct 2022
Accepted/In press13 Oct 2022
E-pub ahead of print18 Oct 2022
Published1 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the community pharmacists who took part in the study. Publisher Copyright: © 2022 The Authors


King's Authors


Twenty percent of women in the UK develop perinatal mental health (PMH) problems, which have widespread effects on maternal and child health. Community pharmacists are ideally placed to identify PMH problems and refer to other trained healthcare professionals.

This study explored community pharmacists’ attitudes, current counselling practices, and barriers to providing mental health advice to perinatal women.

A qualitative focus group study was performed virtually with community pharmacists (n = 11), working in urban settings across London. A topic guide was used to cover current counselling practice, barriers to and confidence in counselling women, and thoughts on potential pharmacist-led perinatal mental health services. The focus groups were recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis.

Three themes were identified: Doing Mental Health Care; Willing, but Unable; and Introspection and reflection, which were related through a central organising concept of ‘Perinatal mental health care as a new frontier for community pharmacy’. It was found that while community pharmacists provide mental health advice to perinatal women and their partners, they lacked confidence, which was related to a lack of knowledge and inadequate training opportunities. Organisational barriers were identified including a lack of a formal referral pathway to existing mental health services and other trained healthcare professionals. Perceptions of opportunities and recommendations for service improvement and change were also garnered.

This study demonstrates community pharmacists have a potential role within community mental healthcare in identification of PMH problems and providing appropriate advice and support. Upskilling community pharmacists in mental health should be considered to increase knowledge and confidence while formal referral pathways to other trained healthcare professionals and existing services should be established and made available to pharmacists.

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