Pharmacies Are Entering the Mental Health Market

Now you can shop for mental health services while picking up your regular household products at drugstores like CVS, Rite Aid, and more.

According to a study released from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, access to mental health services decreased during the pandemic, while reports of anxiety or depression nearly quadrupled, and emergency visits for overdoses and suicide attempts increased 36% and 26%, respectively, compared to 2019.

In an effort to address the restricted access to and affordability of mental health services, CVS has started a pilot program offering mental health counseling and therapy services inside select stores. CVS launched the program in 3 states in January and plans to expand it to additional regions throughout the year.

Other retailers are also taking action to increase accessibility to mental health services.

Walmart Health recently entered an agreement to acquire MeMD, a telehealth provider that provides medical and mental health visits to millions of members nationwide. In a press release announcing the acquisition Walmart stated that this supports their focus on “improved health outcomes and early, equitable access [to healthcare].”

Rite Aid is also piloting teletherapy in virtual care rooms in a handful of their stores in Idaho, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

In a recent article in The New York Times, Dr. Kali D. Cyrus, a psychiatrist at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins, called the expanding therapy programs smart.

“By expanding availability, you increase visibility – and that helps reduce stigma,” Dr. Cyrus said.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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