DoctorThe very popular drugstore chain Walgreens has officially joined the fight against mental illness stigma by nudging those who are experiencing symptoms of a mental illness toward treatment. The company recently joined forces with the nonprofit organization Mental Health America that works to better the mental health of all Americans. With this new initiative, all Walgreens customers will have access to screenings and further information about a slew of mental health issues.

This initiative was launched as a way to educate Americans specifically about the medication necessary to treat different mental illnesses. An ongoing problem in behavioral health is making sure patients take as directed the medication they are prescribed. This is due to a number of reasons, ranging from stigma against medication for mental health, to patients giving up on the medication before it begins to work. This is detrimental, and could even be life-threatening, to those to whom the medication is prescribed. Therefore, all of the medical professionals who work in Walgreens pharmacies are being trained to work alongside the patients to keep treatment on track.

A large portion of the information and screenings will exist in an online portal. In it, there is not only access to mental health facts and screenings, there is also a ‘pharmacy chat’ option, in which one can communicate with a pharmacist in real time, and a video chat platform on which patients can talk to a licensed therapist. This is possible through an MDLive telemedicine company called Breakthrough. With it, patients do not have to wait to get mental health counseling that they need. They can simply sign in, schedule appointments, and experience therapy straight from their homes.

This initiative by Walgreens and Mental Health America is a huge step in the right direction to fight mental health stigma and give people easier access to resources and care. Studies show that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from some sort of mental health issue, but only a fraction of that number seeks help. With the new Walgreens online portal, discovering if an individual has symptoms that indicate the presence of a mental illness, and being evaluated by a professional, is easier than ever. Additionally, the training that on-site pharmacists are put through will ensure medication is managed more effectively by patients.

All in all, the new take on behavioral health by Walgreens is refreshing. I am excited to see how this platform changes the mental care of the millions of people that shop in that drugstore.

For more information, visit New Horizon Counseling Center.