Walgreens is training its pharmacists to assist with mental healthcare.

As some of the most accessible health care providers in the community, pharmacists can play an important role in helping to address the growing need for mental health resources. With May being Mental Health Month in the United States, the drug store chain announced a unique collaboration with the National Council for Behavioral Health and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to provide mental health first aid training for certain Walgreens pharmacists and team members.

While this feature hasn’t been extended locally, the opportunity for the training to expand is possible, officials said. Through the effort, and with the store’s support, mental health first aid training eventually could become available to any pharmacist.

Participants are trained in mental health literacy, risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns and strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations.

Walgreens will begin the training with certain pharmacy staff members, including those focused on health outcomes. As part of the company’s growing commitment to workplace mental health and wellness, it is also training more than 300 Walgreens team members within human resources in mental health first aid.

“With the growing need for services and resources to help those living with mental health conditions, as well as substance use and addiction, we can play an important role by giving our pharmacists and certain team members the training to help those who may be in crisis,” said Alex Gourlay, co-chief operating officer for Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

In the workplace, Walgreens offers a wide variety of services through its free employee assistance program, including an allotment of behavioral health visits available at no cost for team members and their families. All Walgreens-sponsored medical and prescription drug plans also include comprehensive mental health care for eligible employees.

“The overall health of our 240,000 team members and their families is a top priority and as a company that champions health and well-being in our communities across the U.S., we strive to do everything we can as an employer to keep our workforce healthy, physically and mentally,” said Kristin Oliver, Walgreens senior vice president. “We’re proud to offer this training program to hundreds of employees within our human resources department, and through this collaboration, to give more of our workforce critical tools and skills to better serve our customers and our company.”

Source: Norfolk (Ohio) Reflector