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26th September 2014

Getting your head around medication

HeadmedsFor care professionals working with people with mental health problems, the topic of medication is very important. It’s often the major component of someone’s treatment programme, and can be a key protective factor in preventing a relapse in someone’s mental health problem. Staff might be confronted with service users saying ‘Why do I have to take this?’ or ‘I don’t want to take this’. When it is someone else that prescribed this, i.e. a GP or psychiatrist, how do the staff respond? The QCS Medications Policy and Procedure says that staff should promote involvement with service users in the management and administration of their medication, and that staff will ensure they understand its purpose.


There’s a very impressive website called HeadMeds providing just this kind of information on mental health medications and types of mental health problem. It’s geared to young people, but I think it could be useful for all ages. The website makes it clear it is not an advice site, just one giving straightforward information obtained from reputable sources like the British National Formulary. It’s easy to use: you either type in or select the name of a mental health condition, or type in or select the name of a medication, and click. The information is updated regularly.

Quick and easy information

You could say it is limited in its information base, it is only focused on medication and no other types of intervention. But I think its simplicity is part of its attraction. That’s all there is on the website – quick information about mental health conditions, or quick information about medications. The website is developed by Young Minds, which is a leading charity promoting mental well-being of children and young people. The other good thing about this website it invites young people to report their experiences of medication and publishes their stories.

Medical model

Let’s be a bit wary – the information on the website is largely rooted in the medical model view of mental health problems. However, if you as a care worker, or a service user, or their family, want a straightforward doctor’s explanation of a mental disorder, or a pharmacist’s explanation of what appears on a medication packet, this is really a very easy site to use. You can find the website at

Of course the package of QCS policies incorporates information on a number of mental disorders that do explore alternative explanations and treatments for a variety of disorders.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Mental Health

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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