Walmart’s Mental Health Clinics Could Be a Game Changer

If it’s successful, the retailer could make therapy more accessible and affordable for rural Americans

Keren Landman, MD
Elemental
Published in
5 min readSep 24, 2019

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Pedestrians walk by a Walmart store.
Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty

AAmid the clatter of shopping carts outside the Dallas, Georgia, Walmart, Erica Rowell crinkled her nose as she glanced toward the other end of the store. There, past a Subway restaurant, a nail salon, a veterinary center, and an ocean of checkout lanes, stood Walmart Health, a clinic offering primary care, dentistry, and mental health services — the first and only one in the United States.

Rowell had heard of the clinic’s grand opening the prior week. Would she consider seeing a therapist there?

“No,” she said, “not at a Walmart.”

Like Rowell, some consumers may have early doubts about the quality of mental health services obtained from the same source as family packs of toilet paper. While deep discounts might not cloud trust in the quality of ordinary household goods, some may note a jarring incongruity in entrusting their fragile inner selves to a brand closely associated with a price-slashing smiley face.

Still, Walmart’s dominance as a retailer could make it a major player in the mental health space. While the clinic offerings are still in early testing stages, if the…

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Keren Landman, MD
Elemental

Infectious disease doctor | Epidemiologist | Journalist | Health disparities, HIV/STDs, LGBTQ care, et al. | kerenlandman.com.