CVS says it will double the number of stores that offer counseling and therapy services to customers by July

CVS says it will double the number of stores that offer counseling and therapy services to customers by July
CVS will be offering mental health services and counseling at 34 of its outlets.Johnny Louis/Getty Images
  • More people will soon be able to access mental health and counseling services at their local CVS.
  • CVS plans to extend its pilot program to a total of 34 locations in New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
  • Patients will be able to get counseling next to where they pick up their prescription drugs.

CVS announced this month that it's slated to offer mental health and counseling services at an expanded list of locations.

Under a pilot program launched in January, 17 CVS HealthHUB stores in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas now offer mental health services. Customers can go through an initial assessment, after which a licensed therapist creates a care plan for them, schedules sessions, and refers those who need higher levels of care to a specialist, according to the CVS website. The pharmaceutical retailer plans to expand these therapy and mental health services to 34 locations by July, per the news release. The 17 new locations will be spread across the US: Seven locations are slated to open in Texas, six in New Jersey, three in Pennsylvania, and one in Florida.
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CVS did not immediately respond to a request from comment from Insider on the cost of patient consultations. The CVS Health website prices video-based telehealth sessions at $59 per session.

New Jersey resident Shawn Chang, 31, who works in the legal sector, told Insider that he had spent three months waiting for an appointment with a therapist earlier this year. He said he was told on multiple occasions that mental health professionals affiliated with his insurance plan were overbooked.

"The last straw was really when they told me that I couldn't even get on a video call with a therapist for the next two months at least," Chang said.
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Chang said he's open to the idea of going to a CVS for mental health services.

"I wouldn't have thought of a CVS or a Walgreens as an ideal spot for mental healthcare, but if it's an affordable option without huge waiting lines, I'm happy to give it a shot," Chang said.

A need for accessible mental health services

Chang is not alone in seeking professional help - and in having struggled to find it during the pandemic.
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"There's always been more demand for services than there are mental health providers to provide them. I think what the pandemic has done is really laid bare that discrepancy," Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, told The New York Times in February.

A Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in February found that the number of adults with depression and anxiety quadrupled during the pandemic.

An analysis of 66,190 people conducted by the Veterans Health Administration in Palo Alto and published this year found that one in five American adults developed pandemic-related mental health disorders. Some of the most common issues, the analysis found, are post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety.
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Eve Townsend, a therapist at the Jenkintown CVS in Pennsylvania, told NPR that she hoped to reach people in her community who find themselves unable to secure an appointment with a therapist.

"People are saying, 'I'm crying out for help, I need this particular service, I don't want to go in-patient, I don't want to go to the emergency room,' but they don't have anywhere to go," Townsend told NPR.

She said that at the CVS clinic at Jenkintown, her consultation room is located within the CVS' urgent care clinic and is integrated with the pharmacy.
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"To be able to say I can refer you within this clinic with a nurse practitioner or you can get your medication in the same place where you're getting your mental health services - it's like a one-stop-shop," Townsend said.

CVS HealthHUB locations account for 650 of the network's nearly 10,000 stores and house clinics where customers can get a range of healthcare services, from diabetes screenings to COVID vaccinations. CVS HealthHUB stores employ therapists and social workers who are qualified to work with adults aged 18 and older, and who can provide behavioral assessments, referrals, and on-the-spot counseling, according to the news release. Customers can opt to do sessions in person or via telehealth consultations.

CVS is not the only retailer that has branched into offering mental heath consultations.
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Bloomberg reported in February last year that Walmart was offering the option for people to talk through their anxieties with a counselor for $1 a minute at Walmart Health centers, with appointments made available on both a walk-in and online-booking basis. Walmart Health now lists "counseling" as one of its offerings on its website, as it provides mental healthcare services with licensed health clinicians on matters ranging from depression and anxiety to stress, grief, and relationship issues.

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