It’s 8 am, February 2nd,2019, I’ve just met Felicia at Manchester Piccadilly Station and I’m in dire need of my second coffee of the day. Where are we off to? Why the BPSA Pennine Area Conference 2019 on mental health of course! Flash forward a whole twenty-nine minutes and we’re in Huddersfield. The clock is ticking - time to get that coffee in me and make our way to the conference. Greeted by lots of friendly faces, we take our seats and wait for the conference to begin.
10:15-11.15am NHS Mental Health Strategic Framework for Medicines
The first speaker of the morning is Peter Pratt, Head of Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Medicines Strategy at NHS England & NHS Improvement and Chief Pharmacist Associate at Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Foundation Trust. Peter talks us through the extensive experience of psychopharmacology and pharmacy practice in mental health that he has gained from his 35 years of working as a specialist pharmacist in mental health. He talks of the NHS mental health strategic framework for medicines and highlights the important roles that we, the future pharmacists, can play in delivering the NHS long term plan. Inspiring doesn’t cut it.
11:15am-12:15pm Overview of Depression, Assessment, Treatment and the Role of the Pharmacist
An hour and fifteen inspiring minutes later, and it’s time for our second speaker of the morning: Graham Newton, Fellow of The College of Mental Health Pharmacy.
Graham briefly tells us about his role in leading the medicines management team that delivers medicines safely to the in-patient wards and community mental health teams providing adult, elderly, forensics, CAMHS & LD services for the Warrington and Halton areas. He then goes on to the mainstay of his talk: Depression. We get an insight into the impact depression has on day-to-day life for those directly and indirectly affected, learn about the current treatment and guidelines and then discuss the pharmacist’s role in managing depression and where the management of depression can go wrong.
As the conference came with a fee, lunch was included in the package along with the registration fees. Hence, we make our way outside the lecture theatre while some students who are present for the BPSA competition proceed to their specified destination.
13:15-14:15pm Overview of Illegal psychoactive drugs and their effect on Mental Health
Dr Raffaella Margherita Milani, a chartered psychologist who is also a course leader of substance use and misuse is introduced to us. She generally discusses the psychopharmacology of drug addiction by introducing the symptoms and mode of action of some famous misused substances such as Spice, Cannabis, Amphetamine, Cocaine and Crack. To make things relevant, she introduces ways to identify and approach someone with mental illness on her second session of the talk. This is very helpful to us as it is important for our role as pharmacists to understand how to communicate effective care and a non-judgmental approach when helping someone.
14:15-15.45pm Mental Health Wellbeing Workshop
The BPSA Pennine Area Conference ends with a sweet note of us practicing mental health wellbeing by listening to experiences shared by Jasmine Hartshorne-Khan and Maddie Crust, and also meditating. They also share with us on how to recognise mental health issues within ourselves. We find this very interesting as we never really reflect on the possibility of us having a mental breakdown (except during exams)!
After a long day at Huddersfield, it’s time for us to mention our goodbyes. Throughout the day, we had a lot of information to absorb but it was all worthwhile as we made new friends. Hence, dear readers, it’s fair for us to conclude that attending a BPSA Pennine Area Conference or any BPSA conference is really worth your time, effort and money to attend as the line-up of speakers were really informative. We couldn’t really represent how much we learnt in a day but all-in-all, if ever in doubt, just do it!