National drugstore chain Walgreens announced it will partner with Mental Health America (MHA) so customers can identify and treat mental health problems.
Free resources will include online depression and anxiety screening, follow up notifications so patients take prescribed medications and facilitation of treatment, according to MarketWatch. In addition, patients without health insurance can pay approximately $60 for consultations with licensed therapists and psychiatrists.
Those screenings will be performed in conjunction with MHA’s existing online program, which can screen for depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other problems.
The goal is to complete three million online screenings by the end of 2017, Walgreens said in a news release.
“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,” Walgreens president Alex Gourlay said.
Online screenings are about 80% accurate compared with in-person clinician screenings, according to Daniel Eisenberg, a University of Michigan professor of health management and policy. Eisenberg noted that those online screenings traditionally haven’t motivated people to follow up, but the team of MHA and Walgreens could change that.
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“It brings mental health into the realm of commonly experienced conditions that people are generally motivated to do something about,” he told MarketWatch.
More than 27,000 Walgreens pharmacists will have depression-related continuing education opportunities, while a training program on depression and anxiety will be offered to more than 1,100 Walgreens Healthcare Clinic nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
Walgreens employees will have a variety of mental health services available to them, as well.
Depth of the problem
Citing National Institutes of Health (NIH) data, Walgreens said one of every five Americans is impacted yearly by mental health conditions.
That said, at least half do not seek treatment, while half of those prescribed medications do not take them as directed – if at all.
Here are some other statistics about mental illness in America, according to The Kim Foundation.
- Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability for people ages 15 to 44.
- About 45% of people with a mental disorder actually meet the criteria for two or more disorders.
- More than 90% of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder.
- About 2.4 million adults have schizophrenia.
- Anxiety disorders affect 40 million adults in any given year, with the first episode occurring by the age of 21.5.
It should be noted that May is Mental Health Month, according to MHA.
“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,” MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo said.
“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.”