How Walgreens Is Improving Access To Mental Health Care

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
One of the hardest parts of dealing with a mental health issue is actually getting the help you need.

And Walgreens, one of the country's largest drugstore chains, is aiming to help solve that problem with a new partnership with Mental Health America (MHA). Together, they've launched a new mental health section on the Walgreens website that includes free online screening information provided by MHA, plus a referral to Breakthrough, an online service that lets you video chat with a therapist.

Beyond that, the pharmacy chain is offering specialized training for its pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and physician's assistants to better understand depression and anxiety. Walgreens will also now offer guidance online and over the phone for patients just starting a new treatment.

All of this will hopefully help Walgreens and MHA accomplish an ambitious goal: The organizations want to collectively have three million online screenings completed by 2017. “Nearly 25% of our customer base is coming in every day battling a mental health condition, and many don’t even know it,” Harry Leider, MD, Walgreens chief medical officer explained to Fortune.

Raising awareness about mental health is a worthy goal, but it's also worth pointing out that this is by no means a silver bullet. Approximately 20% of Americans deal with a mental illness every year, and there are complex challenges, ranging from stigma to the cost of care, that stand in the way of many people's access to treatment — all things, sadly, that will take more than a new website to fix.

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