DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreen Co. has launched a mental health platform and campaign focusing on the mental health conditions that affect approximately one in five Americans each year.
The initiative, introduced in May in conjunction with the annual observance of Mental Health Month, 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 that can help.
According to health officials, less than 50% of Americans who are prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions take them as directed — if at all.
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), the retailer 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 Walgreens president Alex Gourlay. “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.”
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.
Walgreens is also providing opportunities for continuing education for all of its more than 27,000 pharmacists. 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 offering pharmacist phone calls to Walgreens patients who are new to targeted medication therapies; 24/7 online access to Walgreens pharmacy staff for secure, one-on-one chat to address medication-related questions or concerns with staff specially trained in a number of areas, including stress and depression; and depression screenings for selected disease states, provided through Walgreens specialty pharmacy locations and the Walgreens Connected Care offering.
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 chief executive officer of 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 support.