Line art icon of a pharmacist  Ask the Pharmacist

Your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist has a wealth of knowledge on a wide range of health topics. If you have a question about your health or medication, chances are, your Express Scripts Canada pharmacist knows the answer.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, I worry about my mental health. Can a pharmacist help?

Answer from Express Scripts Canada Pharmacist, Alan Strashok:

While mental health was a well-known issue prior to COVID-19, the pandemic has taken its toll on the mental and emotional well-being of Canadians. It is important to know that it is normal to feel anxious and afraid while we deal with the effects of this global pandemic.

We probably all know someone – a friend, family member or colleague – who has either faced a mental health challenge or lives with a mental health illness.

In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels and cultures. Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives. Our very own research here at Express Scripts Canada shows that there was an 11% increase in the number of people who made claims for antidepressants between January and June 2020 compared to the same period last year.

The important thing to remember is that you are not alone and your pharmacist can help. Pharmacists can – and do – play a key role to support patients with mental illnesses because we are on the front lines of the health care system.

For people with depression, pharmacists can be an invaluable first line of support, education and information – we are probably the most accessible members of your health care team.  

In the case of the Express Scripts Canada Pharmacy, for example, a pharmacist is always available by telephone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so it’s easy to reach out from the convenience, comfort and privacy of your home.

Pharmacists also play an important role in disease screening and studies have demonstrated this value with respect to the identification of mental health issues.

For example, patients who take multiple medications can experience drug interactions and, as a result, might not take their medications as prescribed which can lead to health-related complications down the road. A pharmacist will conduct a medication review with you to help you manage your medications, take them as your doctor prescribed and, of course, answer any concerns you may have. 

If cost is a problem, your pharmacist can help you figure out whether or not there is another lower-cost drug available that will provide you with the same health benefits. If you’re experiencing uncomfortable side effects, your pharmacist can help you reduce or manage them.

Pharmacists are medication treatment specialists, so talking to us about any issues you may be experiencing with your prescriptions can be an important step on the path to wellness.

As highly accessible health care providers, pharmacists can have a meaningful impact on mental health care. So, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help.

Until next time, I’m Alan Strashok, and this has been another episode of Ask the Pharmacist. I wish you good health.


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