Pharmacy chains are beginning to offer outpatient mental health treatment.
Forty-five percent of women reported to CVS Health that they are struggling with mental health concerns. However, 42% said they do not know how to navigate mental health support. So, CVS Health has joined Aetna, Walmart and others in rolling out resources targeted to women. The programs aim to address the lack of support these women have felt they’ve had during COVID-19.
Since the onset of the pandemic, “60% of women say the pandemic has had a negative impact on their stress levels,” according to the CVS Health survey. Women also said they “have not prioritized” their own self-care while caring for their loved ones. Working mothers are struggling to maintain jobs while ensuring their children have the resources they need, making it especially difficult to complete their responsibilities let alone find time for their mental health. The pandemic has caused “25% of women” to opt to stay home or reduce their work hours.
“The longer women are out of the workforce, the harder it is to actually get back in,” said Jennifer Reynolds, CEO of Toronto Finance International. “This isn’t just an issue for women. It’s an issue for families and it’s an issue for the government and economies because it drives GDP.”
Aetna’s Here 4 U virtual group therapy program offers separate sessions for both women and mothers that allow them to share their concerns. The healthcare company has launched a Women’s Health Mental Resource kit as well to help women find professional help supported through their insurance when they feel this is needed.
“During this difficult year, the result has been profound stress, burnout and anxiety that cannot be ignored,” Cara McNulty, president of behavioral health and EAPs at Aetna, said. “This May, we are standing up for women’s mental health, raising awareness and dedicating resources to women, moms and caregivers to support them in prioritizing their own total well-being.”
Not only do these companies now offer opportunities specifically geared towards women struggling during this time, but CVS and Aetna offer free, 24/7 access to mental health care through the Resources for Living platform. Members can book telehealth appointments through CVS’s HealthHub.
Since January 2021, CVS has added clinical social workers trained in cognitive behavioral therapy to thirteen locations across the U.S. These social workers offer in-person or virtual mental health assessments, referrals, and counseling services. They’re available during the day, in the evenings, and on weekends in CVS’s MinuteClinics.
“The hours are more flexible than what therapists might normally offer, and the social workers partner with the clinic’s nurse practitioners and pharmacists to give prescriptions when needed,” said Dr. Daniel Knecht, the vice president of clinical product at CVS Health.
Walmart offers counseling via Walmart Health, a health center located in a separate building adjacent to its Supercenters. In Georgia, Walmart Health offers in-person mental health counseling and, in Arkansas, online counseling is available. “Later this year, counseling services will become available at Walmart Health locations in Illinois and Florida,” a spokesperson said.
“Broadening awareness of mental health resources is just the beginning of how we help those who are struggling,” McNulty says. “Greater access to mental health care will bridge the gap for those in need and make mental well-being part of everyone’s preventative care routine.”