Getting the support of family and friends
Taking medication can be difficult if you are doing it on your own. Having the support of family members or friends could help you get the best from your medication.
They can help with practical things, like:
- going with you to appointments
- helping you ask the right questions
- remembering what the doctor said
- helping you order your prescriptions at the right time
- getting your prescription from the pharmacy for you
- giving you gentle reminders to take your medication at the right time and dosage
- noticing when your symptoms improve and spotting side effects
They can also keep you safe when you might not be able to see changes for yourself. For example, you could take them out when you are driving to check that you are able to cope normally with this. This is important during the first few days and weeks that you are getting used to a new medication. You can also celebrate milestones and improvements together.
You may not feel like you want to let people know that you take medication for your mental health, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Talking to someone you trust could help you to get the best from your medication.
If you need to take your medications at school, college, university or work, you should think about how you can do this comfortably and safely and who might be able to support you with this.
Many medications for mental health only need to be taken once or twice a day, so you can avoid taking them to school, college, university or work (instead, you can take your dose at breakfast time or after dinner.) If this would be good for you, talk to your pharmacist to see what’s possible.
School and college
Your school or college may ask you to store your medication with a nurse or in the office to keep it safe (particularly if it is a ‘controlled substance'). Find a time of day when you can take your medication, and a place where you can do so privately. Talk to a teacher or member of staff if you are finding it hard to find a quiet room that you can use.
Talk to your doctor or a trusted adult if you are having trouble with taking your medication at school. They might be able to talk to the school on your behalf.
If you can, tell at least one friend you trust about your medication. They will be able to talk to staff at school or college if you start to feel unwell during the day.
Talk to your hospital team (if you have one) or a GP to plan your treatment at university as soon as you know where and when you are going. If you start your medication while you are at university, you will need to think what you are going to do when you're at home during the holidays.
Register with a GP near your university so that you can get your prescriptions easily but make sure when you come home for the holidays you also sign on with your home GP as a temporary resident.
Finding a pharmacy close to where you live at university and talking to the pharmacist as soon as possible after arriving will help you settle in and feel confident that you have the support you need in place. You can visit a pharmacy without an appointment during opening hours or give them a call to discuss any aspect of your medication.
If you are at university and living in halls of residence or a shared house, find somewhere private and secure (ideally that you can lock) in your room to keep your medicines. If you can, tell a friend that you trust about your medicines as they might be able to talk to staff or other students for you if your ever feel unwell.
You should also talk to your personal tutor as they can help you stay well and get the best out of your course. They will also be able to support you if you start to struggle with any aspect of your course due to your mental health.
If you need to take medication at work, you may find the following suggestions useful:
- Find a time within your working day when you can always take your medication.
- Find a quiet place at work to take your medication.
- Keep your medication locked somewhere safe if possible, or somewhere private like a desk drawer.
- Keep a spare bottle of water handy so that it’s always easy for you to take your tablets.
- Think about having a ‘back up’ supply of medicine if you work on different sites or if you often go to meetings or work somewhere else at short notice.
- If your work involves shifts or patterns where you cannot take medication easily you should speak to your doctor about your choices.
- If your work involves driving or operating machines or anything else where you must concentrate for long periods of time, talk to your doctor about possible side effects from your medication so that you can do your job safely.
- It is always good if someone you trust at work knows about your medication, so they can help and support you.