CVS provides in-store mental health consultation

Key points

  • CVS Health has begun to provide mental health consultations in selected stores nationwide.
  • Currently, the program is only available in a few locations in Florida, Texas, and Pennsylvania.
  • Studies have found that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the symptoms of mental illness have increased dramatically.

From isolation to sadness, the pandemic has caused huge losses to everyone’s mental health. In order to deal with mental confusion, there is a consistently recommended coping mechanism: treatment. Although treatment can create miracles for a person’s mental health, the cost and waiting time can create painful barriers to care, allowing people to take care of their health without additional support.

CVS is a company that is taking steps to make mental health care more accessible. This year, CVS introduced mental health counseling in several places across the country. Currently, it is available in some stores in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Florida, and consulting services will soon be available in several stores in New Jersey.

“CVS Health is adding licensed therapists who are primarily focused on treating mental health issues as part of the MinuteClinic care team to establish real-time support and new channels for connecting appropriate mental health care at selected HealthHUB locations,” said Ashley Karpinski, director of CVS Health Behavioral health strategy and innovation.

“In certain locations, individuals can obtain mental health assessments, referrals, consultations, and personalized care plans from licensed therapists on site,” Karpinski said.

Ask at MinuteClinic

MinuteClinic is a treatment center that has provided medical clinics in CVS Health stores since 2006. Previously, these clinics focused on diagnosing minor illnesses and injuries, providing vaccinations and health checks, and monitoring patients with chronic diseases.

In 2019, the company began transforming some of its approximately 1,100 MinuteClinic locations into HealthHUB, a test center designed to have more rooms, staff, and personalized care.

You can make an appointment in person or through telemedicine. Consultations in the CVS Health store are conducted in private rooms. Meetings are available on weekdays, evenings and weekends, providing more flexibility for people to participate.

Need for more accessible mental health care

Over the past year or so, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a significant increase in isolation, grief, and mental health problems. In a December 2020 study, 42% of U.S. adults reported signs of anxiety or depression, up from 11% between January and June 2019. A February 2021 review by the Caesars Family Foundation found that 56% of adults between the ages of 18 and 24 report symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Race, income, and job security can also affect the emergence of mental illness. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s survey, during a pandemic, adults in lower-income or unemployed households are more likely to experience symptoms of mental illness. Compared with 41% of non-Hispanic white adults, non-Hispanic black adults and Hispanic or Latino adults also have higher rates of mental illness, respectively, at 48% and 46%.

Karpinski said that CVS Health hopes to provide mental health counseling services to help alleviate these differences.

Ashley Karpinski, Director of Behavioral Health Strategy and Innovation, CVS Health

At certain locations, individuals can obtain mental health assessments, referrals, consultations, and personalized care plans from a licensed therapist on site.

— Ashley Karpinski, Director of Behavioral Health Strategy and Innovation, CVS Health

“In the past year, young people and people of color have experienced particularly high levels of mental health symptoms and pain, which has led to an increase in the number of emergency visits,” Karpinski said.

“By providing accessible, low-cost services through community-based MinuteClinics at specific HealthHUB locations, CVS Health is providing new access points for people who have faced unprecedented pressure in recent months, helping to avoid expensive ER visits, and providing One way to relieve symptoms.”

The company pays for treatment for Aetna insurance holders — CVS Health acquired the provider in 2018 — and negotiates deals with other insurance providers. Patients can also choose to pay with cash, credit card, or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) benefits.

Offering low-cost or free options is essential to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to treatment. In a SingleCare survey in May 2020, 33% of participants said that the cost of mental health care is the biggest barrier to getting help.

Karpinski said that CVS has seen good traction and positive early results so far. She added: “We are absorbing the lessons learned along the way and hope to get more information about the results in the coming months.”

What this means to you

Currently, few CVS Health locations provide mental health counseling. If you live nearby and are looking for care, please make an appointment to see if it is right for you. Otherwise, please look for a clinic in your area that may provide low-cost treatment options.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means that you may receive updated information while reading this article. For the latest updates on COVID-19, please visit our Coronavirus News page.