By: Chloe Richard
Community pharmacies are increasing their role in mental health treatment. Some pharmacies have started offering screening and referral to mental health treatment services to increase access to care. In fact, in 2016, Walgreens announced their partnership with Mental Health America and launched an “answer center” on Walgreens’ website to connect people to MHA’s Online Screening Program.1 The program offers free online screenings for several different mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more. Walgreens is also helping patients find therapy appointments with their web platform Walgreens Find Care.
In an even bigger step toward bridging the treatment gap, some large retail chains are aiming to provide counseling for mental health either in person or via telehealth.2 CVS has recently added clinical social workers trained in cognitive behavioral therapy to 13 of their locations. The social workers will be available to provide non-emergency health care services within CVS’s Minute Clinics, and will partner with the clinic’s nurse practitioners and pharmacists. In addition to CVS, others are expanding their services to fill unmet needs. Walmart offers counseling via Walmart Health in two states, and is planning to expand to additional locations this year. Rite Aid is also piloting counseling via telehealth in a handful of their stores.
As pharmacies continue to expand their offerings for mental health treatment from traditional dispensing, it offers potential for greater access to care and easier entry points to engage in treatment for the millions of Americans who suffer from a mental health condition yearly. To be ready for this expanded role, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals within pharmacies need to be trained and comfortable providing care. If you are looking for ways to increase your comfort and competence in these areas, check out a few resources below.
Intro to Mental Health First Aid for the Pharmacy is a course offered by the American Pharmacy Association (APhA) that is aimed at improving pharmacists’ understanding of mental illness and effectively engaging with people who have mental illness.
The full Mental Health First Aid training course provided by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing is designed to teach you how to identify, understand, and respond to signs of mental illness and addiction to help someone who may be struggling with a mental health or substance use challenge.
Starting the Conversation about Depression and Suicide Prevention is an activity offered by APhA that is aimed at improving pharmacists’ understanding of depression and suicide and treatment options as well as reducing stigma in the pharmacy setting.
The CDC provides numerous Public Health & Health Professionals Tools and Resources to learn about and manage mental health.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association offers numerous resources and trainings on understanding and treating mental health and substance use through their Practitioner Training.