The need for mental health care existed long before the onset of the pandemic. But more than ever, the demand for mental health services is enormous. Many people are struggling to cope with the pandemic or find their way back in pre-pandemic life. Others may struggle with survivor’s guilt or with mental health issues associated with lingering symptoms of COVID-19.
The problem, of course, is that accessing mental health services can be a challenge, even for people. with health insurance. From pre-authorization requirements to referrals to waiting lists and scheduling conflicts, those seeking professional help often face a glove of barriers that often prevent them from obtaining the care they seek. need.
However, some retail pharmacies are looking to change this. And this change could impact not only those seeking mental health services, but real estate investors as well.
Overview of walk-in mental health clinics
It is common to go to a pharmacy to stock up on medical supplies or get a prescription. Now, CVS (NYSE: CVS), the largest retail pharmacy in the United States, is taking action to become a center for mental health.
As of January, the company has added licensed clinical social workers trained in behavior therapy at 13 locations in a few different metropolitan areas – Houston, Philadelphia and Tampa. These counselors are available for in-person or telehealth consultations, and over the coming months, CVS plans to expand this offering to 34 locations in these pilot regions.
Not only are CVS social workers available to clients during the day, they are also available in the evenings and weekends. It is these flexible hours that can help workers in particular to better access the care they need.
Of course, the idea of walking into a CVS pharmacy and having access to healthcare is not a new concept. The chain already offers MinuteClinics, which provides elective health services on a walk-in or appointment basis. But by adding mental health services to the mix, CVS addresses a real need – and makes itself more relevant at a time when physical retailers (even the most essential) are threatened by online competition.
Good news for real estate investors
CVS has long served as an anchor for shopping malls, but real estate investors have also feared Amazon expands its online pharmacy service, it and other brick-and-mortar stores could eventually be forced to close. By introducing mental health services, CVS adds to its sustainability. And that’s good news for anyone investing in shopping center real estate investment trusts (REITs).
Of course, CVS isn’t the only drugstore chain entering the mental health arena. Walgreens, for example, has an online platform to connect clients to telehealth services. And Rite aid operates its own telehealth service. But the fact that CVS offers in-person mental health services could really work to its advantage, and if this new program takes off, it could solidify its place as a retail chain that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.