To Bridge the Mental Health Resources Divide, CVS Launches Mental Health Counseling in Stores

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Finding a therapist can be tricky. And navigating your insurance to cover that therapist can be exhausting. To solve such ails, CVS Health aims to make the process easier through in-store mental health counseling. Launching in select Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Texas locations, this service allows patients to regularly meet with licensed therapists either in person or via telehealth appointments.

"Over the past year, more people are reporting symptoms of depression, anxiety, and addiction than in the year prior," says Ashley Karpinski, director of behavioral health strategy and innovation at CVS Health. "At the same time, the traditional mental health care system is complex and can be difficult to access, especially in an environment of expanded need. As more people suffer with [these] symptoms...traditional resources are increasingly overwhelmed, and individuals are often confused about where to seek help." Having therapists available at CVS is "a new channel for real-time support and connection to appropriate mental health care," she says.

CVS mental health counseling uses CVS MinuteClinic providers within CVS HealthHubs, which also offer treatment for common illnesses like sore throats and chronic conditions like hypertension. Licensed therapists will be available to provide adults ages 18 and older with behavioral assessments, referrals, on-the-spot counseling, and personalized care plans. Appointments are available days, evenings, and weekends and in-person sessions are held in private consultation rooms.

Experts In This Article
  • Ashley Karpinski, Ashley Karpinski is the director of behavioral health strategy and innovation at CVS Health.

This service is presently available in CVS locations in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, with plans to expand to 34 total locations. "We anticipate expanding mental health services into additional markets in the coming months," says Karpinski.

If a CVS near you offers mental health services, you can call 1-855-417-2486 for an in-person appointment or make a telehealth appointment. Your first visit will consist of an initial assessment for your therapist to understand your needs and work with you to develop an individualized care plan. You'll have ongoing sessions at your CVS HealthHub. But if you need a higher level of care, your therapist will work with you to find an appropriate specialist.

"MinuteClinic employs licensed clinical social workers to provide mental health counseling services. They are able to assess, diagnose and provide treatment for mental, emotional, and behavioral issues," says Karpinski. "The services offered at MinuteClinic are not meant to replace traditional health care providers, but rather to offer an additional access point to care. Our licensed clinical social workers will work in collaboration with local mental health care providers, to ensure that patients receive appropriate care."

The mental health services provided by MinuteClinic are covered by many major health insurers and employee assistance program (EAP) benefits plans; however, coverage may vary by location. For those without insurance, pricing options "range between $129 for an initial assessment to $69 for a 30-minute session, with many options in between," says Karpinski. "Individuals can get more information on how to check insurance coverage at Pricing is also available from MinuteClinic locations with mental health services and will be available online as the program expands."

CVS hopes that offering counseling will help to make mental health care available to underserved populations that may not be able to access or afford traditional therapy. "Over the past year, young adults and people of color have suffered particularly high instances of mental health symptoms and distress, leading to increases in emergency visits," says Karpinski. "With accessible, low-cost services available in community-based MinuteClinics at select HealthHUB locations, CVS Health is offering new access points for populations who are struggling with the unprecedented stressors of recent months, helping to avoid costly ER visits and providing a pathway for symptom relief."

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