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Suzanne S. Rettey, PharmD, MPA, BCPP

What another exceptional year for our AAPP student chapters! Fifty-two collegiate chapters submitted an annual report presenting an overview of their 2022-2023 academic year. The Membership-Marketing Subcommittee of the Student Committee reviewed the reports for highlights of the year, noting significant community service, campus activities, research, and professional growth. Throughout the year, student pharmacists exhibited a great passion for mental health awareness in their selection of community service and chapter activities on campus. The chapters also maintain a commitment to professional development in the field of psychiatric pharmacy.

Expanding Interest in Psychiatric Pharmacy

Collegiate chapters are consistently expanding knowledge and interest across different careers in psychiatric pharmacy for their members. Multiple chapters offered meetings featuring guest speakers from all facets of psychiatry and neurology. Student pharmacists arranged for topics including substance use disorders, inpatient psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, meditation strategies, neurologic pharmacy, pharmacogenomics, industry, social work, and poison control. In addition to these topics, student chapters also provided information sessions on the psychiatric residency experience and board certification. Several chapters planned journal clubs, lunch and learns, and study sessions to further advance knowledge in the realm of psychiatry. One pharmacy school offered opportunities for student pharmacists to counsel patients with psychiatric disorders on non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments. Another school participated in a volunteer project to help transition a behavioral health hospital to a new automated dispensing system—allowing for a real world, on-site operational practice in a behavioral health setting. The 2022-2023 year also boasted 63 student chapter members attending the AAPP meeting, with nine posters presented across eight schools of pharmacy.

Driving Mental Health Awareness

Student pharmacists continue to be significant drivers of mental health awareness. They show dedication in their promotion of wellness both in their communities and on campus. Twenty-five chapters participated in community walks to increase awareness of suicide prevention, Alzheimer’s Disease, epilepsy, and recovery from substance use disorders. In addition to maintaining widespread mental health awareness, chapters further supported their communities by organizing various donation drives. Student pharmacists supplied their communities with meals, toys, female hygiene kits and harm-reduction bags. On campus, collegiate chapters provided a unique set of activities to support their fellow students. One chapter provided breakfast and a relaxation room during finals week, while several other chapters arranged for therapy dogs during this stressful time. Additional offerings included art therapy, aromatherapy, stress management workshops, wellness days and creation of wellness vision boards. Chapters continue to succeed in offering of supportive and therapeutic events for their universities, at times collaborating with other pharmacy related student organizations to expand their reach.

Providing Education 

The 2022-2023 academic year exhibited a significant increase in the number of trainings offered for substance use disorders, suicide prevention, mental health first aid and seizure first aid. Fourteen schools participated in naloxone training events with two additional schools involved in the distribution of naloxone. Four schools participated in suicide prevention training, three schools participated in Mental Health First Aid—with one university having 30 students certified, and one school participating in seizure first aid. In addition to trainings, many chapters were highly active in community health and wellness fairs, providing education to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, including veterans, people living in assisted living, school-age children, and senior centers. Chapters provided education on topics such as burnout, stigma, grief, health habits, and harm reduction and recovery.

Raising Funds to Provide Service

Collegiate chapters continue to devise creative fundraising events. Several chapters hosted bake sales on campus throughout the academic year and care packages during weeks of final exams. Merchandise sales are also a common option for chapters—selling scrubs, succulents, water bottles, and stickers to fellow classmates while raising funds for their local chapter. One school offered professional headshots, and another held a pet photo contest – raising nearly $500 for UGA Miracle benefitting Children’s Hospital of Atlanta.

The 2022-2023 academic year proved to a successful effort from the student chapters in expanding reach into their communities by means of education, donations, and mental health awareness. The AAPP collegiate chapters continue to be a strong presence on campus and are increasing collaboration with other student organizations to continue to expand mental health services and awareness to all students. Their dedication to professional and personal growth within mental health is promising and exciting for the future of psychiatric pharmacy!

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