Taking medicines at school, college, university or work
If you need to take medicines at school, college, University or work, you need to prepare yourself so that you can be comfortable taking them.
For many medicines for mental health conditions, you can ask for a type that you only take once or twice a day so that you do not have to worry about taking them during the working day.
Schools and Colleges
Schools and colleges may ask you to store the medicine with a school nurse or in the office. Talk to someone you trust (the nurse or a member of staff). Take a parent or carer to talk to them if you can.
You need to find a place that you can take them in private. Unfortunately many young people end up taking their medicines in the toilets, but it is much better (and cleaner!) to ask the staff to let you use a quiet room. Talk to your doctor if you are having trouble with your medicines at school. They might be able to talk to the school about it.
If you can tell at least one friend that you trust about your medicines, they might be able to talk to the staff for you if you ever feel unwell and need help.
University (Higher Education)
Talk to your hospital team (if you have one) or your GP to plan your treatment at University as soon as you know where you are going. [Equally, if you start your medication while you are at University, think about what you will do when you are at home in the holidays.]
Register with a GP near your university, so that you can get your prescriptions easily, but make sure when you come home for the holidays that you sign on with your home GP as a temporary resident.
Find a pharmacy close to where you live at University, and go to talk to the pharmacist when you get your first prescription. The staff there could help you as you settle in, and you can walk in without an appointment or phone them.
If you are at university and living in a hall of residence or shared house, find somewhere private (and ideally somewhere you can lock) in your room to keep your medicines.
If you can tell a friend that you trust about your medicines, they might be able to talk to the staff or other students for you if you ever feel unwell and need help.
You should also talk to your personal tutor. They want you to stay well and finish your course. You may need to talk to them about your work if you have struggled at school or college with studying and exams.
Moving away from home to University is a big step, and you may feel pressure from new friends to drink a lot or to try other substances. Many medicines for mental health conditions do not mix well with alcohol and drugs. Think ahead of ways that you can enjoy social times with other students without having to take risks. Universities organise many clubs where you can meet people with the same hobbies and interests.
If you need to take medicines at work, you could try the following ideas to help you to take them regularly and without feeling embarrassed:
- Find a time in the working day routine when you can always remember to take your medicine
- Find a quiet place to take your medicine (maybe a time when the staff room is not used by others, although the toilet may be the only place that you get privacy)
- Keep your medicines locked away, if possible, when you are not near them
- Keep a spare bottle of water so that you always have a drink ready for your dose
- Think about having a ‘back-up’ supply available if you work on different sites, or if you sometimes have to go to work somewhere else at short notice
- Plan ahead with your doctor if your work involves shifts or patterns where you cannot take your medicines easily – they may be able to give you a different type of medicine
- If your work involves driving or operating machines, talk to your doctor about side-effects from your medicine so you can do your job safely
It is always good if someone you trust at work knows about your medicines. Your work will be at its best if your medicine is working well and you can take it regularly.