Walgreens is training pharmacists to tackle mental health, opioid emergencies
Walgreens has announced a collaboration with the National Council for Behavioral Health (National Council) and the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) to provide mental health first aid training for some of the drugstore chain’s pharmacists and other team members.
The retailer will initially focus on training 300 employees in mental health first aid within its human resources unit. The initiative is part of the company’s plan to better deal with mental health and opioid addiction in the U.S. Roughly eight million adults are estimated to be living with mental health conditions and/or substance abuse issues. Those going through the program will be trained on how to identify risk issues and how to spot signs of addiction among customers. Pharmacists will be instructed on how to respond in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
“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, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. “We’re proud to further our commitment to improving the health and wellbeing of our communities through this initiative and working with the National Council and APhA to continue an important dialogue around mental health and how we can help.”
Employees who successfully complete the training program will receive continuing education units from the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Walgreens plans to roll the program out and make it available to pharmacists chainwide.
The new initiative follows an announcement last week from the chain that will it will raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in its stores from 18 to 21 on Sept. 1.
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DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect the role that pharmacists play to continue to expand into different areas of health as more becomes known about issues such as chronic diseases, mental health, opioid addiction, etc.? How do you expect pharmacies to balance new duties for pharmacists with the filling of prescription medicines?