Hugh Toner (BScPH’87)

Pharmacist Hugh Toner (BScPH’87) talked about overcoming “debilitating” depression and how pharmacists like himself can help patients navigate mental illnesses on the May 10 episode of the Marilyn Denis Show.

Thirty years ago, when he was a 21-year-old Dal pharmacy student, Toner was battling depression. He told Denis, “I couldn’t concentrate. It was very difficult.” He called it one of the worst periods of his life, and one of the best things that ever happened to him. “I made a decision that I was going to find out how my mind worked. I was going to go digging. And I was going to make sure I would never experience it again.” He recovered and is now the owner of two Medicine Shoppe pharmacies in Sydney, N.S. Toner said he uses the knowledge he gained to help other people.

If someone’s feeling off, Toner said, they can walk into a pharmacy and have a private conversation with a pharmacist. They may also have the option of completing a patient health questionnaire. “People can come in off the street. Pharmacists are some of the most accessible health professionals out there. You don’t need an appointment two weeks ahead,” Toner said.

His own struggle convinced Toner that treating mental illness means putting patients first and personalizing therapies. “We’re moving to a patient-centred approach to care,” he said. People do better when they believe in the therapy, which may or may not include medications, and could involve referring them to seek medical help.”

View the video interview at and read “Five Ways Your Pharmacist Can Help Manage Your Depression” at marilyn.ca.

Image: The Marilyn Denis show, CTV