Psyched-Up: Pharmacy Student Club Dedicated to Mental Health
Anti-anxiety and anti-depression medications represent the largest chunk of the top 50 drugs prescribed in the United States. Many Americans who take these drugs rely on the knowledge and acumen of their pharmacists to help them ensure they lead happy and healthy lives. Our student chapter of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP) is focused on enhancing their education so they can be better prepared as future pharmacists and learn more about the opportunities in the psychiatric field.
Filling a Need: As the founding president of the LECOM CPNP Erie chapter, third-year pharmacy student Christina Bizzarro helped establish CPNP to spread awareness of the opportunities that psychiatry specialties provide to pharmacy students. “To me, starting the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists student chapter at LECOM was a no-brainer. It is important for us as future pharmacists to be aware of this specialty and the services that we can provide to patients.” To that end, Bizzarro and other members often partnered with these local resources for community service activities and events.
Spreading Awareness: As one of forty-four student chapters in the nation, LECOM’s CPNP chapter focused on topics like the opioid epidemic, suicide awareness/prevention, and wellbeing. In conjunction with our College of Medicine’s Mental Health Task Force, CPNP students rallied support for the Out of the Darkness Community Walk, an event hosted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Over thirty LECOM students walked to spread awareness and remember the victims of suicide. They also hosted a mental health first aid training session open to all students to help them identify and care for those suffering from things like anxiety attacks and other acute mental health issues. CPNP is focused on not just educating the public, but also introducing our own students to the resources that are available, so they can provide future patients with the proper counsel for their mental health needs. “Having CPNP helps our students not only learn more about the specialty, but also the resources available within the Erie community. The more students become familiar with mental illness, the more we can reduce the stigma and normalize it,” Bizzarro says.
Looking Towards the Future: Dr. Abbey Krysiak, a 2010 graduate of LECOM and a Board Certified Psychiatric Pharmacist, serves as the faculty advisor to the club. “Having the CPNP student chapter at LECOM is a great avenue for our students to be involved with the mental health community,” she says. Dr. Krysiak also serves as the main pharmacist for Millcreek Community Hospital’s Inpatient Behavioral Health Unit, the largest in the region. She is excited to get more and more students interested in this area of need. “I look forward to continuing our club’s growth and helping students learn about this profession at its opportunities.”
Click the links below to learn more about the organizations CPNP helped with spreading awareness on mental health issues.
Written by Jordan Koper, Pharmacy Admissions Coordinator