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Pharmacist Gabriela Butoi is a mental illness champion

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Raised in Cernavoda, Romania, Gabriela Butoi came to Canada at age 11 and earned her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from the University of Toronto. She’s now a community pharmacist at Main Drug Mart in Toronto. Ten years ago her interest in mental health was sparked as she witnessed a close family friend struggle with mental illness. This interest developed into a passion.

By Gabriela Butoi

It was devastating to see the family battling with the new diagnosis and the stigma associated with it. Pharmacists can play an integral role in helping those who suffer from mental health re-integrate into the community after a hospitalization. Though many pharmacists may feel uncomfortable with the subject, I hope more of us will engage patients in talking about their mental illness.

As part of my pharmacy education, I attended morning rounds on the General Psychiatry Unit (GPU) at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health where I met newly admitted patients to perform a best possible medication history and medication reconciliation. I also attended electroconvulsive therapy sessions and several inter-professional events on working with patients’ families.

As a newly licensed pharmacist, I want to be involved in a smoking cessation program, which is why I plan on taking the TEACH smoking cessation course at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Pharmacists helping to increase smoking quit rates can have a tremendous impact on peoples’ overall health.

As my career develops, I envision myself working closely with patients suffering from mental illness, acting as an approachable support on the patient’s path to recovery while providing quality pharmaceutical care.