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The mental health clinic inside the Texas Walmart offers a variety of treatments and access to a licensed clinical social worker.

Mental health services are being offered in Texas at an unexpected location: Walmart.

According to the Boston Globe, Boston-based company Beacon Health Options opened the small clinic in the Carrollton, Texas Walmart last week. 

Eventually, Beacon plans to open additional clinics in similar spaces in hopes of increasing mental health care options for those who may not have access to it otherwise.

Currently, the Texas clinic has one licensed clinical social worker and provides treatment for anxiety, depression, grief, relationship issues and other common stressors. Patients can go online or call to schedule appointments. Walk-ins are also welcome. If the clinic is too busy, patients will have the option to use Skype to speak with a professional.

The clinic is not meant for individuals with severe forms of mental illness, and operates on a sliding scale for patients without insurance.

“People don’t know how to find a behavioral health or mental health professional,” said Beacon president and CEO Russell Petrella. “People don’t know where to go and what to do… We’re trying to mainstream behavioral health services.”

According to Bonnie Cook, executive director of Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, the clinics are needed, as Mental Health America recently rated Texas as the state with the least access to mental health care. 

“As a mental health community, we have to start thinking outside the box,” Cook told the Globe

On the other hand, some professionals were critical of Beacon’s new venture because of the company itself.  

“Offering mental health care in a retail setting is innovative and imaginative, and it could work,” Gary A. Chinman, Brookline psychiatrist and president of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society, told the Globe.

However, he added that Beacon “would have to change a lot more about their business model for it to be successful.”

Vic DiGravio, president and CEO of the Association for Behavioral Healthcare, expressed the same concerns, stating that Beacon is restrictive when it comes to providing care because of “procedural hurdles and inadequate pay.”

“If Beacon were serious about expanding access to mental health services, it would focus on doing a better job in its current lines of business,” DiGravio told the Globe. “What Beacon is really good at is limiting access to treatment. They’re not so good at promoting access to treatment.”

In speaking to the Globe, Petrella did note that some providers struggle with “administrative hassles” and that steps are being taken to solve such issues. 

He adds that Beacon has good intentions when it comes to clinics such as the one in Texas.

“We’re trying to fill in the gaps in care, trying to do it in a reasonable way, with low stigma, and make it convenient,” Petrella stated. “Hopefully, we can improve the quality of some people’s lives.”

View the original article at thefix.com

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