COVID-19: Medication for mental health
This information explains how you can continue to get hold of your medication during the COVID-19 pandemic, how your appointments or services might be different, and gives information on taking your medications if you have COVID-19.
This leaflet provides information, not advice.
The content in this leaflet is provided for general information only. It is not intended to, and does not, mount to advice which you should rely on. It is not in any way an alternative to specific advice.
You must therefore obtain the relevant professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action based on the information in this leaflet.
If you have questions about any medical matter, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider without delay.
If you think you are experiencing any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention from a doctor or other professional healthcare provider.
Although we make reasonable efforts to compile accurate information in our leaflets and to update the information in our leaflets, we make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in this leaflet is accurate, complete or up to date.
Can I collect my medication as usual?
If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19 you can still leave home to collect your medication.
What do I do if I want to change my medication?
Try not to make any changes to the amount of medication you take, or when you take it, unless you have first spoken with your doctor, GP, or another professional involved in your care. Speak to them about any questions or concerns you have, including if you would like to make a change.
What do I do if I run out of medication?
If you are worried your medication will run out – or you have already run out – contact your doctor or the pharmacist who usually supplies your medication, as soon as possible.
Give your doctor plenty of notice to prepare your prescription as services may take a bit longer than usual. You should always contact your doctor or another health professional involved in your care if you have any concerns about your medication, before you make any changes.
Can I get my medication in larger batches to reduce how often I need to go to the pharmacy?
Ask your usual doctor or GP if you would like them to prescribe you larger batches of medication to last you for a longer period of time. This might not be possible if your medications have limits on how much can be supplied in one go or if you need frequent reviews of your treatment.
Can I have my medication posted to me?
The health service is helping pharmacies to post or deliver prescriptions, so your pharmacy may be able to do this. Alternatively, you could try one of the following things:
- If you have family, friends, a neighbour or a carer, they may be able to collect your medication for you.
- There are local organisations who can help, like Mutual Aid. A volunteer may be able to pick up your medication for you. For both of these options you will need to inform the pharmacy that someone else is picking up your prescription.
- If you are cared for by a mental health team, your care coordinator or key worker may be able to collect your prescription for you.
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have some symptoms of the virus, don’t go to your pharmacy. Instead, try one of the above options.
How can I get medication quickly if I am experiencing a mental health crisis?
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, follow the advice you have been given by your healthcare team.
If you are unsure or can’t remember what advice you were given, you can call:
- your GP, and ask for an urgent prescription or appointment
- your mental health team, and ask to speak to your care coordinator or key worker.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis outside of working hours, you can call:
- your local Trust emergency number (not all Trusts have this)
- your local mental health crisis team, if this is available out of hours
- your GP out-of-hours phoneline
- NHS 111.
You should go to A&E if you feel you are unable to keep yourself safe or need urgent medical attention.
The NHS website has further information for people about dealing with a mental health crisis.
Is it safe for me to touch the packaging of my medication?
The pharmacist who prepared your medication will have followed standard procedures to make sure that it is safe. If you are still concerned, you can clean the outer packaging with a household disinfectant cleaning spray or wipe, and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after touching any boxes. It is especially important that you wash your hands thoroughly before taking any medication.
I usually have my medication by depot injection, will I still be able to get this?
You should still be able to get your medication by depot injection, but you may need to speak with your doctor, nurse or key worker to arrange where and when you will have the injection, and to discuss how to reduce the risk of infection.
If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, speak to your doctor, nurse or key worker. They will agree with you whether you should receive your depot as usual, whether the dose could be increased so that you can receive it less often, or whether it might be better to wait a while. Your doctor should write this down in your care plan and make sure other people involved in your care know what is happening.
I take medication that requires me to have physical health monitoring, such as having regular blood tests. Will this still go ahead?
The service you use might ask you to monitor your physical health at home where possible, or your doctor may review how often your tests will be done.
In some situations, you may not be able to self-monitor at home – a professional in a health setting may need to do certain kinds of monitoring for you (such as blood tests). Speak to your doctor or mental health team to find out how and where your appointments and tests will happen.
If there is a change to your normal check-up arrangements, your care plan should be updated. If any changes have been made to a scheduled appointment, including check-ups, the service should contact you to tell you about this. If you are unsure about anything to do with your appointment, contact your doctor or the team involved in your care.
Will I still be able to have medication review appointments, if needed?
If you want to have your medication reviewed, contact your doctor or the mental health team you see to arrange this. They should already have put in place ways of reducing the risk of infection by COVID-19, and should tell you if any changes have been made to a scheduled medication review.
What should I do if I develop COVID-19 symptoms?
If you are having symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay at home and order a test. Visit the NHS website to find out more about how to do this.
Should I keep taking my medication if I get COVID-19?
It is understandable to be worried about how COVID-19 might affect your mental health medication, or any other medication you might be taking. However, you should not stop taking your medication unless you are advised to by your usual doctor, GP or another health professional involved in your care.
If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19, carry on with your current medication routine unless advised not to by your doctor or a health professional involved in your care. If you have any concerns about your medication, speak to your doctor before making any changes.
Will my medication pose any additional risk to me if I get COVID-19?
COVID-19 may affect people differently, depending on what medication they are taking, their age, and other medical conditions they have.
If you are concerned about how your medication might affect you if you get COVID-19, speak to the person responsible for your mental health care. This might be your GP, mental health nurse, pharmacist or another health professional if you are under the care of a mental health team, such as your care coordinator or key worker.
This person will be able to help you answer any questions about your health and medication, and whether there is anything that you need to be aware of.
Is it okay for me to take paracetamol or ibuprofen?
The current medical advice for most people is to take paracetamol to treat COVID-19 symptoms, unless a health professional has advised you not to take paracetamol.
Ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- There is currently no scientific evidence that ibuprofen or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) will increase your susceptibility to contracting COVID-19 or having worse symptoms. However, such drugs may interact with some mental health medications. So, before taking ibuprofen (or any other NSAID), always check that it is safe for you to take alongside your existing medication.
- If you are already taking ibuprofen or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) on the advice of your doctor, don’t stop without checking with them first.
If you have any concerns about taking any kind of painkiller to manage COVID-19 symptoms, ask your doctor, or a health professional involved in your care, for advice.
How can I tell the difference between side-effects of my medication and symptoms of COVID-19?
Some symptoms associated with COVID-19 (such as tiredness and aches/pains) can be side-effects of some medications. Having these symptoms on their own does not necessarily mean you have COVID-19.
The main symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- a high temperature
- a new, continuous cough
- a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
Visit the NHS website for information on what to do if you have symptoms of COVID-19. The NHS has set up a special service called NHS 111 online where you can check if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also contact your doctor or a health professional involved in your care for help and advice.
The mental health charity Mind provides some useful information about side effects of medications for mental health. Rethink is another charity which also provides useful information about medication.
- gov.uk: Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread
- NHS 111: COVID-19 service
- Mind: Coronavirus and your wellbeing
- Lifeline: 0808 808 8000
The Northern Ireland crisis response helpline for people who are experiencing distress or despair
- MindEd – a free educational resource on children and young people’s mental health for adults
- Young Minds – a UK charity supporting children and young people’s mental health.
Published: Sept 2021
Review due: Sept 2024
© Royal College of Psychiatrists