Prescribing medications to patients with mental health issues could be challenging.

Now, researchers from the University of Montana’s College of Health may soon be able to determine how patients will respond to mental health medications before prescribing them, according to U.S. News. They would be able to do so by analyzing the genetic makeup of patients.

Using pharmacogenetics, the team uses patients’ genetic profiles to choose the most effective medications for their mental health issues.

Prof. Erica Woodahl of the UM Skaggs School of Pharmacy, who has been studying pharmacogenetics, said she is excited to take her research from labs to clinics.

She told the Missoulian, a daily newspaper printed in Missoula, Montana, “Pharmacogenetics is a field that is being implemented in the country, but mostly in large academic medical centers and in large metropolitan areas.”

“One of the first goals of this new institute is to offer this to Montanans who otherwise have been left out of this sort of revolution in health care,” she added.

Prof. Woodahl explained, “Mental health medications can be difficult to optimize for patients and that can be really frustrating for patients and for providers. We hope that using genetic testing in the area of mental health will help us choose the best medication for a patient at the get-go.”

Prof. Hayley Blackburn said, “As we think about our provider shortages across the state of Montana, I think this is a cool, creative way to train students and get them ready to provide that care.”

She said, “It’s also a timely opportunity to train students in the area of telehealth after the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a push for virtual health care.” The article was originally published Saturday on U.S. News.