One in 5 Americans struggles with a mental health problem, and 4 out of 10 leading disabilities in the U.S. are due to a mental health problem. Serious mental illness costs America roughly $193.2 billion per year, yet, research on mental health epidemiology shows that only half of the affected get treated for their illness.
Amid the challenges that mental health patients face, Walgreens has initiated a highly commendable effort to ease access to mental health services. On May 10, Walgreens announced a new mental health campaign to meet the growing demand for treatment and care.
Walgreens is one of the nation’s largest drug store chains, operating 8,173 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states and managing a workforce of over 250,000 employees.
Walgreens chief medical officer Dr. Harry Leider said, “Pharmacies have always been oriented around supporting patients who are on medications for mental health conditions, but we are providing even more training around medication issues.”
The Walgreens mental health platform
With the introduction of the new Mental Health Answers site, customers are given access to educational resources and an array of online screening tools, free of cost. The Walgreens mental health platform aspires to:
Increase consumer awareness through informative online resources
Improve access to care by screening tools and easy connections with professionals
Improving health outcomes through early screening and intervention
Reduce stigma by promoting greater awareness and a more open dialogue
Mental Health America (MHA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to acknowledgment and promotion of the importance of mental health, partnered with Walgreens to create a platform that helps people connect to scientific online screenings for numerous mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD.
The telehealth solution
Breakthrough, an MDLIVE company, is also being made available through Walgreens’ digital entities to facilitate contact with more than 1,000 state-licensed therapists and psychiatrists for the treatment of addiction, depressive symptoms and other behavioral health issues.
The drug store chain is also offering prospects for continuing education to its staff of more than 27,000 pharmacists. Later this month, the pharmacy is launching a training program focused on depression and anxiety for more than 1,100 Walgreens Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
The company’s pharmacists are also involved in individualized consultations with Walgreens patients new to targeted medication therapies. Customers can securely chat online with pharmacy staff for queries and depression screenings. Walgreens and MHA say that they hope to complete 3 million online screenings by the end of 2017.
“There’s a tremendous need for resources and access to care, among other things, in the mental health space right now. And we believe there’s an important role we can play,” commented James Cohn, director of external communications at Walgreens, when speaking with Sovereign Health. “Additionally, we have 6 million people coming through our doors every day, plus another 2 million per day who visit our digital properties. We have an opportunity to reach a lot of people with a very important message, and call to action.”
Walgreens’ mental health initiative arrives in conjunction with the Mental Health Awareness Month celebrated every month of May. Sovereign Health is a leading behavioral health provider, dedicated to the provision and promotion of evidence based treatment of substance abuse and mental health disorders. We acknowledge and commend all efforts made in promoting awareness of mental health as we continue with several informative projects in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Sana Ahmed is a staff writer for Sovereign Health Group. A journalist and social media savvy content developer with extensive research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana has previously worked as an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster. She writes to share the amazing developments from the mental health world and unsuccessfully attempts to diagnose her friends and family. For more information and other inquiries about this article, contact the author at email@example.com.