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Walgreens Partnership Boosted Patient Mental Health Screening

Seventy-five percent of patients accessing MHA/Walgreens mental health screenings went on to seek treatment.

A Walgreens partnership increased patient mental health screenings.

Source: Thinkstock

By Sara Heath

- A partnership between Walgreens and Mental Health America (MHA) resulted in an increase in patients screening for mental health and taking the steps to manage a mental illness.

The partnership, forged last year, included an online platform on which patients could access tools screening for mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.

The Walgreen’s website hosted the platform while MHA conducted the screenings.

Recent data shows that 75 percent of patients who visited the platform both completed the screenings and took the steps necessary to manage any conditions that may have been detected.

The data showed vast improvements in patient screenings for PTSD and anxiety. Nine percent of Walgreens users received a screening for PTSD and 26 percent for anxiety, compared to 3 percent and 11 percent of non-users, respectively.

Thirty-seven percent of patients who accessed the platform followed up by reaching out to a mental health professional or someone who can help them, compared to 19 percent of patients who did not complete a screening.

Of the patients who completed the online screenings, 30 percent added that they received treatment for their conditions and 20 percent said they have sought additional information. Twenty-four percent of platform users shared their results with their friends, family, or healthcare providers.

This data shows that the Walgreens and MHA partnership accomplished its goals of improving patient access to mental healthcare resources and treatment, said Walgreens Chief Medical Officer Harry Leider, MD.

“One of our primary objectives when first launching this program was to help meet the growing need for resources and access to care,” Leider said in a statement.

“We’re proud to know that the tools and services we’re offering, along with Mental Health America and its community based resources and screening program, are enabling more people to seek answers or help,” he continued. “We look forward to finding more ways to work together, and with other providers and partners to address the many challenges facing both patients and our mental health system today.”

The partnership has also diversified the individuals seeking resources from MHA. Because MHA has offered its screening tools through Walgreens, which has a broad patient base, MHA has reached a higher amount of older patients and patients from various demographics.

“Mental Health America is pleased to be working with Walgreens on this important initiative,” said MHA President and CEO Paul Gionfriddo. “Our online screening program is often a critical first step for people who have mental health concerns, and because of this collaboration, we’ve seen a more diversified group of visitors to our site, including older generations and caregivers, as well as people who have had a prior mental health diagnosis.”

The MHA and Walgreens partnership will continue in coming months as MHA adds the Walgreens Pharmacy Chat to its own website. This will allow patients to discuss medication concerns and ask questions to Walgreens providers.

Walgreens recently forged a similar deal with the VA and the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the US. This partnership will improve patient education about mental and behavioral health, suicide prevention, and opioid abuse.

“We know that the rate of suicide is increasing for all Americans, but the rate of increase is much slower for Veterans who receive VA care,” said Acting VA Under Secretary for Health Poonam Alaigh, MD. “With this in mind, we need to cast a wider net and meet Veterans where they live to better engage them in care.”

Walgreens will take part in offering educational materials and courses at VFW meetings, as well as support the VA’s Make the Connection program. The Make the Connection program shares veterans’ personal stories about mental health to destigmatize treatment.

In turn, the VA and VFW will support Walgreens pharmacists in understanding the preferences of veterans experiencing mental health issues.

The VA, VFW, and Walgreens agreed that the partnership will be beneficial primarily because of Walgreens’ wide scope.

“The mental well-being of America’s Veterans is of the utmost importance to the VFW,” explained VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “By working with several organizations including Walgreens and VA, we’re able to positively impact a great number of Veterans, and help to change the narrative associated with mental wellness.”

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