To evaluate a consumer-led teaching intervention to reduce pharmacy students' stigma towards depression and schizophrenia, and improve attitudes toward providing pharmaceutical care for consumers with mental illness.
Third-year bachelor of pharmacy degree students were given a series of mental health lectures, undertook supervised weekly placements in the community pharmacy setting, and attended a tutorial led by trained mental health consumer educators.
A previously validated 26-item survey instrument was administered at baseline, 6 weeks postintervention, and 12 months postintervention, and 3 focus groups were conducted. Survey instruments were completed by 225 students at baseline, 230 students postintervention, and 228 students at 12 months. Students' stigma decreased (p < 0.05) and their attitudes toward the provision of pharmaceutical services to consumers with a mental illness showed significant improvements (p < 0.05). These improvements were maintained at the 12-month follow-up. Four themes emerged from the focus groups: knowledge and experience of mental illness, mental health stigma, impacts on attitudes and self-reported behavior, and the role of the pharmacist in mental healthcare.
Consumer-led education for pharmacy students may provide a sustainable reduction in stigma and improve attitudes towards providing pharmaceutical services to consumers with a mental illness.