Making Mental Health Apps Available
By Tamer Abouras
In the wake of any mass shooting tragedy and lost in the debate over the role of guns in American society is the consistently sobering fact that virtually all parties agree on: the need for mental health reform and expansion in the United States is urgent.
In spite of the fact that this is always the place both gun control and gun rights advocates can find common ground, mental health often lags behind other medical issues both in terms of legislation and innovation. And why wouldn’t it? These issues concern the most complex part of human anatomy: our brains.
As Deborah Estrin, a computer science professor at Cornell University and one of the founders of Open mHealth, a non-profit start-up focused on bringing clinical meaning to mobile health data, told Forbes last fall, “Really effective applications are not trivial to design — they take time to explore and to validate.”
SEE ALSO: The Lingering Effects of Military Service
So taking those caveats into consideration, it’s all the more impressive that Walgreens has stepped up with a new mental health platform as part of a campaign and collaboration with Mental Health America (MHA).
According to a press release on Walgreens’ website, “The Walgreens mental health platform aims 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. The initiative launches in conjunction with Mental Health Month, observed each May in the United States.”
The platform will have the ability to connect users to, “ … free, scientifically based online screenings for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and others.”
“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,” said Alex Gourlay, Walgreens president.
Walgreens’ press release specifies that, among other things, the company’s mental health platform will include such functions and conveniences as:
New to therapy consultations — pharmacist phone calls to Walgreens patients who are new to targeted medication therapies, including depression
Pharmacy chat — 24/7 online access to Walgreens pharmacy staff for secure, 1-on-1 chat to address medication-related questions or concerns. Staff specially trained in a number of areas, including stress and depression
Depression screenings for select disease states, provided through Walgreens specialty pharmacy locations and the Walgreens Connected Care offering
ADVANCE Opinion Poll: Which metric has performed best since your ICD-10 changeover?
Walgreens deserves a lot of credit for putting in the required due diligence to develop an app with the ability to provide major assistance to the one-in-five Americans who are affected by mental health conditions each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.
As Gourlay said himself, “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.”