Would You Go to Rite Aid for Mental Health Care?

Retail health clinics such as the CVS "Minute Clinic" and the Walgreen's "Take Care Clinic" are among the most innovative things to happen in health care in recent years. But are they poised to get even better? Known for providing quick and inexpensive treatment for common physical health problems, these clinics could start offering mental health care services too.

"Today, the typical retail clinic focuses on basic physical health and does not include mental health interventions (e.g. screening, referral, or crisis management)," the Scattergood Behavioral Health Foundation notes. That's why Scattergood's annual Design Challenge for 2014 will focus on integrating mental health care into retail clinics. The winning design will be implemented at QCare, a recently-opened retail health clinic in Philadelphia, later this year.

"This will be the 1st ever comprehensive mental health component in a retail clinic ever!" Scattergood notes on its crowdfunding page (the foundation is seeking to raise $10,000).

"It will forever change the landscape of how health care is delivered at the local level."

Antidepressants are the most commonly used prescription drug among American adults under 60, according to Scattergood. Most antidepressant prescriptions are written by primary care doctors, not psychiatrists, so shifting some of this to (increasingly popular) retail clinics seems feasible.

PsychCentral founder and CEO John Grohol supports the concept of easy-access mental health care at retail clinics. "It’s certainly time that mental health enjoyed the same benefits as the physical healthcare system," he wrote. "Maybe getting into a retail clinic will help forward that cause."