Skip to main content

Retail clinics make mental health screening and treatment more accessible

April 25, 2023 |4 minute read time

 A women meets with a mental health counselor in an office.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month — learn how to get mental health services at a MinuteClinic near you.

Meeting with a physician to better understand a diagnosis or receiving a screening test like an MRI to check for a medical problem are common parts of the health care journey. But while screenings for physical illnesses are routine, the idea of being screened for a mental health condition isn’t as familiar to most consumers — even though mental health disorders are on the rise.

Harris Poll data commissioned by CVS Health® found that 41% of Gen Z and younger millennials in 2022 were living with or managing anxiety or depression conditions. And 85% of Americans surveyed said there were outside factors — like the COVID-19 pandemic, finances or state and federal polices — constantly increasing their stress levels. But the same study found that only 16% of those struggling with anxiety and depression were comfortable contacting a therapist or mental health professional for treatment.*

To help alleviate the stress people face when considering mental health treatment and improve access to convenient care, more than 1,100 MinuteClinic locations across the U.S. offer depression screenings. And select MinuteClinic® locations offer in-person and virtual mental health services, including cognitive behavioral therapy. Here’s everything you need to know about mental health screenings and services available at MinuteClinic.

What are mental health screenings?

Mental health screenings are early assessments used to help health care providers better identify potential mental health concerns. At MinuteClinic locations in select states, we offer both in-person and virtual services to screen for depression and anxiety, as well as other mental health concerns. These services give patients the opportunity to receive mental health assessments, referrals, counseling and personalized care plans, with appointments available days, evenings and weekends.

“During your exam, our providers pay close attention to your mood, thinking process, memory and whether you are experiencing any anxiety or depression symptoms,” says Ashley Karpinski, LPC-S, Executive Director of Enterprise Collaboration and Care Delivery at CVS Health. “Depression is different from normal grief or sadness. It’s a mood disorder marked by feelings of sadness, loss of interest and enjoyment in life. It affects thinking, feelings and behavior, so a screening can help determine if someone is suffering from depression.”

What happens during a mental health screening?

Patients receiving depression screenings or medication management services at MinuteClinic are treated by a nurse practitioner (NP) or a physician assistant (PA), while patients receiving other mental health counseling services are treated by a licensed mental health provider (LMHP), such as a licensed clinical social worker. To get a complete picture of your health history, your provider will ask you about any symptoms you are experiencing and might ask you to fill out a mental health screening questionnaire.

“Your provider may ask about your mood, feelings, sleep habits and any symptoms you’re experiencing,” says Karpinski. “Your provider may also recommend additional tests to rule out any other health conditions, such as anemia or thyroid disease, which could explain your symptoms.” Common symptoms of mental health conditions include fatigue, irritability, loss of appetite, loss of interest in daily life, sadness, sleep disruptions or suicidal thoughts.

Information about the specific symptoms you are experiencing will help your provider evaluate and determine potential options for care. Depending on the outcome of the screening, your provider will create a personalized care plan, including setting goals for improving your mental health, scheduling ongoing counseling sessions or prescribing medication to treat symptoms. If your provider determines you need additional services or a higher level of care, they can easily connect you with a specialist who can collaborate to help you achieve your best mental health.

MinuteClinic’s evidenced-based care model has helped patients achieve measurable improvement, with ~80 percent of patients reporting a reduction in their depression symptoms and an average of just five to six visits per patient to reduce symptoms within six weeks.

 “With access to convenient screenings, personalized care planning, and ongoing care to address concerns, we hope to help address the urgent need for in-person and virtual mental health care,” says Karpinski. “Your MinuteClinic provider can talk to you about your symptoms and help you get the care you need.”

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts, substance use, a mental health crisis or emotional distress is encouraged to call/text 988 on their phone. The national Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers immediate 24/7 call, text and chat access to trained crisis counselors who can help.