Mental Health in Pharmacy Practice: Addressing the Silent Struggle

Mental health is a critical issue in all sectors, and the pharmacy profession is no exception. The Canadian Pharmacy Mental Health and Workforce Wellness Survey by Abacus Data, presented at the Alberta College of Pharmacy Human Resource Forum, highlights the pressing challenges faced by pharmacy professionals in Alberta. This blog post delves into the survey’s findings, discussing burnout, fulfillment, and the factors impacting mental health in pharmacy practice. 

Burnout in Pharmacy Practice

The Oldenburg Burnout Inventory (OLBI) scores indicate a significant prevalence of burnout among pharmacy professionals. Despite a slight improvement from 2022, where 92% were at high risk, 79% of pharmacy professionals still face a high risk of burnout. This high-risk group scores above the cutoff for either exhaustion (2.25 or higher) or disengagement (2.41 or higher). The exhaustion index stands at 2.90, and the disengagement index at 2.66, reflecting widespread workplace exhaustion and disengagement.

Fulfillment in Work

The survey reveals a dichotomy in how pharmacy professionals perceive their work. While 41% feel fulfilled, an equal proportion feel unfulfilled. Those who find fulfillment attribute it to factors such as patient care (82%), professional autonomy (78%), being part of a team (75%), and the ability to practice to their full scope (67%). These elements underscore the importance of meaningful work and professional independence in maintaining job satisfaction.

Factors Affecting Mental Health

Several factors impact the mental health of pharmacy professionals, both positively and negatively:

Positive Factors

  • Relationships with Colleagues: 43% report that supportive colleague relationships positively impact their mental health.
  • Home/Family Life: 39% find stability in their personal lives contributes to better mental health.
  • Relationships with Patients/Public: 37% gain satisfaction from their interactions with patients.
  • Providing New Pharmacy Services: 35% feel that expanding their service offerings positively affects their mental health.


Negative Factors

  • Workload During Work Hours: 75% report that high workloads negatively impact their mental health.
  • Work-Life Balance: 63% struggle with maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life.
  • Regulatory Requirements: 59% find the demands of regulatory compliance stressful.
  • Personal Health: 52% feel that their health is negatively impacted by their work.
  • Salary/Remuneration: 49% believe their compensation does not reflect their efforts, contributing to stress.

Abuse and Harassment

Abuse and harassment from patients and the public remain significant issues. Although the incidence of abuse has decreased somewhat since 2022, 37% of pharmacy professionals still experience abuse or harassment at least weekly, with 19% facing it daily. The main contributing factors include pressures on the healthcare system (88%), a lack of understanding of the pharmacist’s role (77%), drug shortages (66%), and prescription wait times (61%).

Mental Health Days and Career Considerations

The survey highlights a worrying trend regarding the mental health of pharmacy professionals. Over the past year, 34% have taken at least one day off due to mental health issues, averaging 4.7 days off. This is an increase from 29% in 2022. Furthermore, the impact of work on mental health has led many to reconsider their career choices:

  • 61% have considered reducing their hours.
  • 59% have contemplated leaving their job.
  • 48% have thought about leaving the profession entirely.


Conclusion and Call to Action

The findings from the Canadian Pharmacy Mental Health and Workforce Wellness Survey underscore the urgent need for addressing mental health issues in pharmacy practice. The high levels of burnout, coupled with significant mental health challenges, indicate that more support is needed for pharmacy professionals. This includes measures to manage workload, improve work-life balance, address regulatory burdens, and reduce incidents of abuse and harassment. By focusing on these areas, we can help ensure that we pharmacy professionals not only find fulfillment in our work but also maintain our mental health and well-being.

This is crucial not just for our own sake, but also for the quality of care we provide for our patients.

We invite you to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences on this matter. How can we better support the mental health of pharmacy professionals? What changes would make the most significant impact? Your insights and suggestions are invaluable as we work together to create a healthier and more sustainable work environment for all pharmacy professionals. Please leave your comments below!

About the author;
Devaki Grenier is a passionate Pharmacy Technician, dedicated to helping patients and ensuring their well-being through more than 12 years of experience in the field.

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