News Feature | May 13, 2016

Growing Need For Mental Health Resources Prompts Walgreens To Expand Resources And Access

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Walgreens Sign

MDLive to offer Behavioral Health Services as part of Walgreens Mental Health Platform

Approximately 20 percent of American battle mental health issues each year — more than heart disease or diabetes — and it is estimated more than half of those affected may not seek treatment. To help address the growing need for mental health resources, Walgreens has launched a mental health platform and associated campaign designed to improve resources and access to care for those most in need. The initiative is being launched in conjunction with Mental Health Month, observed in May.

The new platform is designed “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,” according to a company statement.

Walgreens has also collaborated with Mental Health America (MHA), a community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Together, MHA and Walgreens will help connect individuals to free, scientifically-based online screenings for a host of mental health conditions. Follow-up care can also be facilitated by MHA.

“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,” explained 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 expansion includes the deepening of the collaboration between Walgreens and MDLive which adds access to behavioral health services provided by Breakthrough, an MDLive company. The initial collaboration began in December 2014.

Through Walgreens, MDLive’s HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based telehealth medical services platform already offers 24/7 access to board-certified, primary-care doctors and pediatricians via online video, mobile app, or phone. Through the addition of Breakthrough Walgreens customers will gain access to more than 1,000 licensed therapists nationwide with the ability to schedule secure video sessions by appointment.

According to a 2013 study conducted by clinical researchers at the University of Zurich, patients who received psychotherapy for depression via the Internet had equal or better outcomes than those receiving conventional face-to-face therapy, and 95 percent of telehealth patients reported being satisfied with their experience, compared to 91 percent of patients receiving conventional treatment.

“Teletherapy is an excellent option if you’re looking for a more convenient, private, and affordable way to receive behavioral therapy,” said 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.”

Breakthrough Behavioral Services can be accessed from the Walgreens website, or the Breakthrough mobile app available for download on iOS and Android. Once users set up a free account, they can browse therapists and schedule a video consult with the therapist of their choice. The cost per visit is based on the therapist selected; however, Breakthrough accepts most insurance plans.