Research released to coincide with International Self-Care Day on Saturday (July 24) showed that 44 per cent of healthcare professionals don’t believe people in the UK are able to look after their own health.
The research, commissioned by consumer healthcare company Perrigo, highlights significant concerns within the healthcare community about the public’s ability to treat common ailments and minor health issues themselves. This could either be through a lack of understanding of what self-care is or how to practise it.
The survey of over 200 pharmacists and GPs also highlighted the ways in which a lack of awareness around self-care and personal wellbeing can manifest as mental health issues, and in some cases cause problems with other areas of peoples’ lifestyles such as sleep and diet.
For instance, of the concerns that members of the public cite as keeping them up at night, healthcare professionals said they most frequently speak to patients who are suffering from work-related stress (73 per cent), struggling with financial issues (67 per cent) or are worried about the pandemic (54 per cent).
Overall, three-quarters of those questioned (76 per cent) have seen an increase in mental health related queries during the past 12 months.
Separate PAGB research has already revealed how attitudes towards self-care have changed during the pandemic.
Farah Ali, superintendent pharmacist at Perrigo's Warman-Freed Learning Pharmacy, said: “Patients often underestimate how much of an impact common ailments, such as headaches, hayfever, sore joints or a cough, can have on their mental health, sleep quality, diet and wider wellbeing. As frontline health workers, pharmacists ... are experts on self-care and truly understand the benefits of good self-care practices.”
Pharmacists and GPs need to better communicate these wider benefits of self-care, she said, as well as help patients to approach their health more holistically and recognise how leaving common ailments untreated can have knock-on effects.