Inside a CVS MinuteClinic in Westwood, Dontrell Jones is talking to someone not about treating a cough or cold, but about his mental and emotional well-being.

“A lot of people, the everyday person comes here and they can have an opportunity to see someone and just better their lives,” Jones said.

The Westwood location is one of six across Southern California, where people can go for assessments and counseling with licensed mental health providers.

“A lot of times you see people who are lost and their mental health is not at their best and services like CVS and other places, they’ll provide ways to better your mental health,” Jones said.

Patients can schedule appointments seven days a week over the phone and on the CVS website.

“Probably the most rewarding part of this position is knowing that it’s just a lot more accessible to our patients, to our people, and ultimately to our communities,” said Shaon Martineau, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for CVS in Rancho Cucamonga.

He typically sees patients with mild-to-moderate issues, such as anxiety, depression and general life stressors.

“For so long in communities, we saw people suffering in silence. They didn’t have outlets. They didn’t know where to go. They didn’t know who to talk to,” Martineau said.

Specific locations in Long Beach, Los Angeles, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Santa Clarita, and Thousand Oaks all offer in person therapy, but virtual sessions are available to any California resident 18 and older.

“The care plans that we deliver and we put together for our patients, they’re very unique to what they have going on and what they’re going through,” Martineau said.

“To really see the clients and the patients, feeling heard, feeling safe, feeling accepted, and then feeling empowered to make some of the changes that maybe they’re looking to make in their life is a very rewarding process.”

The therapists accept most major insurances. However, CVS says many patients including Jones take advantage of their company’s employee assistance programs that can fully cover several counseling sessions.

“In order for us to navigate through society, we have to be of sound mind and mentally prepared for things that’s [sic] coming about,” Jones said.

CVS did not provide the number of patients who have used the service so far, but says on average, 80% report a reduction in depression symptoms.

“This, I do believe, is a good part of the future of our field,” Martineau said.

And the future of a company trying to make in-person therapy as easy as going to the drugstore.

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