Safer Prescribing Initiative

Our Safer Prescribing work was borne out of hearing one too many parents share that their child had ended their life, yet was taking antidepressants. This didn’t make sense to them or us until we started to look a little deeper…

The Research…

We found that the 2021 Census suggests that 14.7% of the 56.5 million population of England were or had recently used antidepressants.

With a 63.3% increase in more effective prescribing and medicine management in 2022 compared to 2016, more people are thankfully reaching out to their prescriber for help, but by definition, more people are being exposed to the potential side effects of antidepressants, which for some can mean suicidal ideation.

Those experiencing suicidal ideation as a side effect may understandably believe that they are experiencing deteriorating well-being despite their medication, not because of it. This assumption and lack of awareness put those patients at risk of harm to themselves.

Let’s also consider the harm to the prescribers too. Prescribing antidepressants to a patient has an innate risk of moral injury to the prescriber. If it results in an unlikely, but potential, suicide, the prescriber may endure sustained and negative moral emotions such as guilt, shame and anger, impacting their own well-being.

The What…

Our Safer Prescribing Initiative is dedicated to safeguarding teens and young adults, whether they are initiating or already using antidepressants, ensuring their well-being throughout the medication journey.

The initiative is designed to ensure that patients have a clear understanding of the potential side effects of their medication and feel confident returning to the prescriber for guidance should their well-being deteriorate.

Introducing a Prescription Safe Plan, the initiative provides a self-help tool for patients to navigate safely while awaiting their review appointment.

Beyond patient care, the initiative aims to enhance the knowledge base of the prescribers, allied healthcare professionals, HR teams and patients under 18, their parents, guardians and teachers. Aligned with NICE Guidelines, OLLIE’s training promotes a clear understanding of the side effects of antidepressants and what to do should the patient experience diminished well-being and guidance on the concept of a Prescription Safe Plan.

The How…

Our Safer Prescribing Initiative is sensitively delivered through a series of talks, each specifically designed to address the unique needs of Prescribers, allied healthcare professionals, HR teams, Educators, Parents and Carers and Students aged 16+ :

In addition to these open sessions, available to the public, we also can design a unique session bespoke to your organisation, community group or workplace. Should you wish to arrange a Safer Prescribing Talk, please email contactus@theolliefoundation.org.

You may wish to download your Safe Plan here:

Acknowledgements:

The OLLIE Foundation would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to the families who have tragically lost loved ones to suicide while on antidepressants. Their bravery in sharing their deeply painful experiences with us has been invaluable in shaping our understanding and guiding our efforts.

We also extend our thanks to Beverley Bishop for so generously and courageously sharing her research. Her contribution has been so valuable in bringing this initiative to the fore.