DEERFIELD, Ill., May 10, 2016 - Mental health conditions affect approximately 1-in-5 Americans each year – more than heart disease or diabetes1 - however it’s estimated more than half of those affected don’t or may never seek treatment. With many barriers and challenges facing both patients and the mental health system, Walgreens today is launching a new mental health platform and campaign to help meet the growing need for resources and access to care.
The Walgreens mental health platform aims to improve health outcomes through early screening and intervention, to heighten consumer awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental illness, and to connect more people with clinical resources in their community who can help.
The initiative launches in conjunction with Mental Health Month, observed each May in the United States.
As part of the campaign, Walgreens has formed a collaboration with Mental Health America (MHA), a leading community based nonprofit organization, dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Working with MHA (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), and with a new section of the Walgreens website dedicated to mental health, (Walgreens.com/mentalhealth), Walgreens can help connect people to free, scientifically based online screenings for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and others. MHA can also facilitate follow-up treatment and care through providers and specialists in local communities, as well as through its affiliates across the U.S.
“Walgreens is dedicated to championing everyone’s right to be happy and healthy, and our commitment extends to supporting our customers and patients to both good physical and mental health,” said Alex Gourlay, Walgreens president. “We’re proud to help meet the need for mental health resources in our communities, to encourage those who have questions or concerns to seek answers, and to work closely with other providers and partners to help more people get the support and services they need.”
The Walgreens Mental Health Platform
Walgreens currently provides a broad range of services to improve medication adherence for patients, including those with certain mental health conditions, and today introduces a new Mental Health Answers site available at Walgreens.com/mentalhealth. The site features informational resources and content, as well as easy access to a selection of free online screening tools through MHA.
A new behavioral telehealth solution provided by Breakthrough, an MDLIVE company, will also be available through the Walgreens digital properties. Breakthrough offers access to more than 1,000 state-licensed therapists and psychiatrists to treat addiction, depression, stress and other behavioral health concerns.
As part of the commitment, and to better serve those with mental health conditions, Walgreens is providing opportunities for continuing education for all of its more than 27,000 pharmacists. And beginning later this month, a training program focused on depression and anxiety will be offered for the more than 1,100 Walgreens Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Walgreens pharmacists are playing an important role in working with patients through other services, including:
- New to therapy consultations – pharmacist phone calls to Walgreens patients who are new to targeted medication therapies, including depression
- Pharmacy chat – 24/7 online access to Walgreens pharmacy staff for secure, 1-on-1 chat to address medication-related questions or concerns. Staff specially trained in a number of areas, including stress and depression
- Depression screenings for select disease states, provided through Walgreens specialty pharmacy locations and the Walgreens Connected Care® offering
With timely intervention often critical to early stage treatment, Walgreens and MHA together have set a goal to complete 3 million online screenings by the end of 2017.
“Mental Health America is very pleased to partner with Walgreens this way,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, Mental Health America. “Walgreens is a trusted part of the fabric of so many local communities in which we and our affiliates work. Mental Health Month has been MHA's signature wellness event since 1949, and our online mental health screening program has rapidly become an amazing year-round way to reach people who have mental health concerns with helpful information and supports. Adding the Walgreens suite of supports and services to our program will strengthen our offerings, and help many more people recover from serious mental health conditions.”
Mental Health and the Walgreens Workforce
Walgreens also has made a strong commitment to mental health services for its more than 250,000 employees. The company offers a wide variety of services through its free employee assistance program, in addition to three behavioral health visits available at no cost for team members and their families. All Walgreens-sponsored medical and prescription drug plans also include comprehensive mental health care for eligible employees.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com), one of the nation's largest drugstore chains, is included in the Retail Pharmacy USA Division of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), the first global pharmacy-led, health and wellbeing enterprise. More than 8 million customers interact with Walgreens each day in communities across America, using the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice. Walgreens operates 8,173 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Walgreens digital business includes Walgreens.com, drugstore.com, Beauty.com, SkinStore.com and VisionDirect.com. Walgreens also manages more than 400 Healthcare Clinic and provider practice locations around the country.
1 National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. (n.d.). Statistics: Any Disorder Among Adults. Retrieved March 5, 2013