Walgreens trains its pharmacists in mental health first aid

Walgreens is training its pharmacists in mental health first aid in response to an expected increase in mental illness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The training involves understanding risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns as well as strategies to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations. 

Walgreens said it completed the first phase of its pharmacist training May 20 and that the training will become available to any Walgreens pharmacist this summer. 

The retail pharmacy chain said it developed mental health training in a partnership with the National Council for Behavioral Health and the American Pharmacists Association. The training is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. 

"With the prevalence and rise of incidents of depression, anxiety, addiction, PTSD and others, specialized training can be key to identifying warning signs, and working with other providers, even finding gaps in care or treatment," said Rina Shah, Walgreens group vice president of specialty and retail pharmacy operations.

Mental Health America, a nonprofit designed to educate people on mental health, said it's seen a significant increase in the number of daily screenings completed for depression and anxiety from January to April. A survey cited by Walgreens also found that 74 percent of clinicians said they expect to see a surge in patients with mental health needs due to the pandemic. 

Read the full news release here.

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