HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

Creating HeadMeds

Most of the information on HeadMeds about medications has been compiled using Patient Information Leaflets (PIL) and Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) which are applicable throughout the UK. Some information however has been obtained from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) which only applies to parts of the UK. Please talk to your Doctor about your own situation if you need further clarification about any medication.

We have thought carefully about ways to make sure that the information we give on this site is as useful, reliable and up-to-date as possible.

Making the information useful

  • Before we started writing the information about medicines, we held focus groups with young people to find out what they might want to know.
  • We also did a survey with doctors who prescribe medicines for mental health to ask them which ones they used most (a) for young people aged under 18 and (b) for adults over 18.
  • We brought together a group of young people, pharmacists and doctors to help us through the process and to give us advice about what we were writing.
  • We tested the information and website at different points along the way to see whether we were getting it right, and what we needed to change.
  • We started with the 21 medicines that we believe are often used by young people, and we have a plan, subject to funding, to add more medicines after the launch of the website based on what young people tell us isn’t there.
  • We have made it clear in our disclaimer at the top of each page that this is general information and not medical advice,  and that everyone reacts to medicines differently. So you should always talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation.

Making the information reliable

To bring the information together, we used books and electronic materials that are also used by other pharmacists and doctors for medicines:

  • The British National Formulary (Adult version) (BNF)
  • The British National Formulary for Children (BNFc)
  • The Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines for Psychiatric Medicines (John Wiley publishers)
  • The Electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC)
  • Pharmacology at a Glance (John Wiley publishers)
  • The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List (Drugs in Sport)

We developed a template that could be used for each medicine – this template reminded us of the information that we must include.

On the template, it shows which information source is best for each issue we have highlighted  about these medicines (for example, that we need to look at the Maudsley prescribing textbook to find out about how that medicine reacts with  drugs, or that we need to look at the SPC to see how the medicine affects pregnancy).

For each medicine, we chose one Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) and Patient Information Leaflet (PIL) for at least one of the products available on the eMC – where available this was the original brand of the medicine – for example, for the antidepressant medicine venlafaxine we looked at the SPC and PIL for Efexor™ tablets.

If there was more than one formulation available (for example, if one medicine has tablets and an injection available) we looked at the SPC and PIL for different formulations.

We asked pharmacists from the College of Mental Health Pharmacy (CMHP), who specialise in the use of medicines for mental health, to review the information we had written before we put it on the website.

We have referenced all our sources in all the medication information we provide and we have made it clear in our Terms and Conditions that the material has been adapted and that the original publishers/authors are not responsible for any adaptation.

Keeping the information up-to-date

For each of the information sources that we listed above, we bought and used the most recent version available.

Because it took quite a long time to put this website together, we had to go back and update information as new things became available.

After the website is launched, we have a plan to update the information:

  • We will review information from the BNF, BNFc and eMC every 12 months.
  • We will update any urgent new information that comes through about our medicines at any time (we can get email alerts about these medicines from the MHRA, which licenses medicines and approves all the SPCs and PILs).
  • We will update the information from textbooks every time a new edition is published.
  • We will check the SPC for each medicine every 6 months and we will set email alerts so that we will know when the SPC has been updated (manufacturers have to change information on the SPC in the eMC within 10 days of any new information becoming available).
  • We will review the new WADA list for information about the medicines on the site every time a new list is published – as soon as possible after 1st January each year.

Real Stories

All the young people  featured on our HeadMeds site have shared their experiences for the purpose of helping other young people understand more about mental health medications. If you are a journalist and want to feature any of these stories permission must be sought from the YoungMinds press office. 

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