Walgreens wants to better empower its workforce.
On Wednesday, the start of Mental Health Month, the national drugstore chain said it will soon provide specialized mental health training to pharmacists. It’s partnering with the National Council for Behavioral Health and the American Pharmacists Association for the new program, which focuses on the growing need for psychological resources.
Under the program, 300 Walgreens human resources team members as well as pharmacy staff members focused on patient outcomes will be trained in Mental Health First Aid. They’ll learn about mental health literacy and understanding risk factors, as well as how to spot warning signs and addiction concerns among customers. The staff will be equipped in strategies for both crisis and non-crisis situations.
The new program builds upon a Walgreens digital mental health initiative. In 2016, the retailer offered online mental health screenings in partnership with the nonprofit Mental Health America. A year later, the company found that nearly 75% of online visitors who completed MHA’s screenings were seeking treatment of some kind.
It’s estimated that one in five American adults live with a mental illness, with more than half failing to ever seek or receive treatment.
“With the growing need for services and resources to help those living with mental health conditions, as well as substance use and addiction, we can play an important role by giving our pharmacists and certain team members the training to help those in crisis,” Alex Gourlay, Walgreens co-chief operating officer, said in a press statement.
Pharmacy retailers are increasingly seeking to demonstrate that they’re serious about community care. Last week, Walgreens announced that buyers soon will have to be 21 to purchase tobacco products in its stores in an effort to crack down on teen use. The company also offers a “comprehensive suite of digital information and support tools” to those customers who want to quit smoking.
In 2014, CVS Health became the first national retail pharmacy chain to stop selling tobacco products in all stores, saying such sales conflicted with its company mission. More recently, the retailer announced an ambitious goal to rid beauty aisles of digitally altered imagery. Currently, 70% of all beauty imagery in stores is now compliant with the no-manipulation standard.