Walgreens to train pharmacists in mental health first aid

mental health

Walgreens Boots Alliance has launched a training program for pharmacists. With this training program pharmacists will learn how to better identify warning signs of mental health and substance abuse problems in their patients and help them during the crisis situation.

Partnering with the American Pharmacists Association and the National Council for Behavioral Health, the retailer plans to create an online version of the Mental Health First Aid program. This program was developed in 2001 in Australia to provide individuals who weren’t clinicians with strategies to help people undergoing a mental health crisis.

The National Council for Behavioral Health, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and Missouri Department of Mental Health oversee the program in the U.S.

This Walgreens’ program for pharmacists will be a four-hour interactive online course. It won’t offer full certification in mental health first aid but, participants can earn continuing education credits from the American Pharmacists Association.

Through the program, pharmacists will learn how to deal with scenarios involving patients experiencing a mental health or substance abuse disorder.

Apart from pharmacists, up to 300 personnel from Walgreens’ human resource department will undergo a full eight-hour, in-person training course to help them address mental health and substance abuse issues faced by their co-workers.

The Walgreens spokesman also mentioned that the training will lead to complementing the company’s efforts to address patients with mental health and substance abuse issues.

Alex Gourlay, Walgreens' co-chief operating officer said that with the growing need for services and resources to help people living with mental health conditions and substance use addiction, the company can play a vital role by imparting training to pharmacists and certain team members to help those in crisis.

Betsy Schwartz, vice president of public education and strategic initiatives at the National Council, said that Mental Health First Aid is typically offered as an eight-hour, in-person course with certification.