New platform offers access to video sessions with therapists
DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens has rolled out an online mental health platform that offers informational resources, screening tools, a therapist/psychiatrist locator, and live video chats with mental health professionals.
The drug chain said Tuesday that in tandem with Mental Health America (MHA), it has launched Mental Health Answers, a website section dedicated to mental health. At the page, visitors can access MHA’s provider locator tool; free online screenings that enable users to assess symptoms for a range of conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and PTSD; and a library of articles and other content on mental health.
MHA also can facilitate follow-up treatment and care through providers and specialists in local communities, as well as via its affiliates nationwide.
Consumers, too, can access a behavioral telehealth solution, MDLIVE’s Breakthrough, through Walgreens’ digital channels. Breakthrough brings patients access to more than 1,000 state-licensed therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors nationwide to schedule secure video sessions for the treatment of addiction, depression, stress and other behavioral health issues. Walgreens said on its website that calls or video consultations with a psychiatrist or a therapist start at $60 and are available via computer, smartphone or tablet.
“Our commitment extends to supporting our customers and patients to both good physical and mental health,” Walgreens president Alex Gourlay said in a statement. “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 mental telehealth service expands Walgreens’ current medical telehealth partnership with MDLIVE, the Sunrise, Fla.-based technology company noted. MDLIVE said Breakthrough Behavioral counseling services without prescriptions are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Behavioral health prescribing services will be available in the District of Columbia and 19 states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Virginia.
“Teletherapy is an excellent option if you’re looking for a more convenient, private, and affordable way to receive behavioral therapy,” stated Randy Parker, founder and chief executive officer of MDLIVE. “Through our relationship with Walgreens, we are making it easier for consumers to get help by providing the flexibility to schedule therapy at a time that works best for them, and without the need for travel time, waiting rooms or office visits.”
To use Breakthrough Behavioral Services, patients set up a free account and then browse therapists to schedule a video appointment. The cost per visit is based on the therapist selected, and Breakthrough accepts most insurance plans.
“Access to providers and care is one of the biggest challenges for our mental health system today, and we’re pleased to work with MDLIVE to help meet this need as part of the Walgreens mental health platform,” commented Adam Pellegrini, divisional vice president of digital health at Walgreens.
Walgreens noted that its mental health platform is aimed at improving patient outcomes via early screening and intervention, raising consumer awareness of and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness, and connects more people with clinical resources in their area.
In addition, Walgreens said it’s providing mental health continuing education to its 27,000-plus pharmacists. And starting later this month, a training program for depression and anxiety will be offered to the more than 1,100 Walgreens Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Walgreens added that the new platform builds on its current pharmacy services for mental health, such as new-to-therapy consultations on medication regimens, such as for depression; online chats for medication-related questions or concerns with pharmacy staff specially trained in a number of areas, including stress and depression; and depression screenings for select disease states, provided via Walgreens specialty pharmacy locations and the Walgreens Connected Care offering.
Together, Walgreens and MHA have set a goal to complete 3 million online screenings by the end of 2017. Their initiative launches in conjunction with Mental Health Month, which is observed each May.
“Mental Health America is very pleased to partner with Walgreens this way,” stated Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO 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 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.”