by Rosana Steavenson, PharmD, BCPS, BCPP
May is Mental Health Month – a time where organizations across the country work to raise awareness on the importance of treating mental illness and promote emotional well-being. As a 2021 BPS Ambassador and a BPS Board-Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist (BCPP), I am so glad to see BPS supporting this discussion and I am honored to share my perspective on this important topic.
I recently attended the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists Annual Meeting where attendees were able to learn from leaders in mental health and psychiatry, reunite with familiar colleagues, and connect with new ones. It was invigorating to witness the excitement of student pharmacists attending their first professional conference and to honor some of the first pharmacists certified as BCPPs – the energy was palpable.
The thread of connectedness is where I find the largest benefit from board certification; maintaining board certification promotes connectedness both to my patients and other board-certified pharmacists. I find confidence in knowing that I am one of over 1,400 board-certified psychiatric pharmacists who promote the role of the pharmacist practitioner in its most advanced concept. I am encouraged by the knowledge that BCPP is recognized as the gold standard credential in the care of individuals with mental illness. I also find that the maintenance of knowledge required for board recertification puts me in a better position to enhance patient care. I remain optimistic even as the world copes with low rates of mental health treatment engagement, opioid-related deaths, and increasing suicide rates, that psychiatric pharmacists will become recognized as core mental health professionals who can improve access to the care needed to help save lives.
As I shared in my story as a 2021 BPS Ambassador, the pressures of conversations related to suicide can be heavy, though that load is lightened when you feel competent and the knowledge validated through board certification can facilitate confidence and professional competency. Board certification empowers me to help healthcare providers formulate an assessment, develop appropriate treatment plans, and provide personalized care to our patients. My board certification, and connectedness to other board-certified psychiatric pharmacists, puts me in an optimal position to assess suicide risk and be involved in suicide prevention efforts.
Connectedness can decrease rates of depression and anxiety and serves as a protective factor against suicide, and it can come in many shapes and sizes. This May, in honor of Mental Health Month, channel your inner-BCPP and ensure you are carving time out for self-care. Take a few extra moments to connect with friends and patients – a warm smile or genuine inquiry can make a difference. Take care out there!