Mental Health First Aid: Increasing student pharmacist preparedness to respond through simulation

Primary Author: Easton Stoner

Faculty Sponsor: Jennifer Robinson


Primary College/Unit: College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences

Category: Medical and Life Sciences

Campus: Pullman




Suicidal ideation, depression, and anxiety are common mental health conditions that are present in our communities and classrooms.  Student pharmacists have historically reported feeling under prepared to support those in need during a mental health crisis. Research teams from Washington State University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) collaborated with The University of Sydney School of Pharmacy to establish a meaningful educational intervention focused on training student pharmacists with the skills and confidence needed to respond to a mental health crisis.

In the of fall 2019, a Mental Health Human Patient Simulation activity was integrated into an already established Mental Health First Aid elective course with an enrollment of 60 doctor of pharmacy students. For the simulation, students were placed into groups of 5-6 and each group participated in three patient simulations: depression with suicidal ideation, depression with no suicidal ideation, and a manic episode. To measure the effectiveness of the course overall, students completed a pre-course and post-course survey to rate confidence in providing mental health first aid.

Results show that students leave the course feeling more confident and rated their preparedness to provide mental health first aid much higher post- course when compared to pre-course ratings. With the rates of suicidal ideation and deaths by suicide being so high, the implications and applicability of this research can be applied to students in all fields in the hope of decreasing the incidence of death by suicide in our communities.