One third of adults in the U.S. struggle with mental health issues and that number is on the rise. In a country where nearly one-tenth of the population do not have health insurance, find out how a Teva collaboration is going beyond medicines to support patients.
“All I saw was a totally black abyss of nothingness yawning ahead of me; I felt like my life was useless, worthless. That was my inner world for almost three years. Within two weeks of beginning therapy and taking the medicine, the darkness began to lift. Today I feel back to being my true self. I am regaining my creativity and enjoying learning new things again.”
Mental health patient attending a Free and Charitable Clinic in Florida
One third of adults in the US show symptoms of anxiety, depression or both. More than 5.5 million US adults with a mental illness are uninsured, and almost a third of all adults with a mental illness reported they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. In addition, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial minorities have experienced higher rates of depression and anxiety compared to their white counterparts, with depression 15 to 23 times more prevalent for those who identify as Black, Hispanic or Asian.
Teva’s access program to support mental health
Teva’s “Community Routes: Access to Mental Health Care” is a partnership with the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics and Direct Relief to advance mental health equity and care for underserved populations in the US. However, unlike many other healthcare access programs, its aim is not simply to provide medicines.
“When it comes to mental health, medicines are not the only line of treatment,” says Carol Richardson, Senior Director, ESG Lead, North America. “It’s important that patients also have access to behavioral health services.”
That's why Teva is providing $2 million in grant funding over two years, in addition to donating $17 million* worth of commonly used generic medicines to treat depression and anxiety.
“Mental health care is not a one stop deal, it needs to be provided on an ongoing basis. You need that ongoing support to make any difference,” says Dr Ahmad Nooristani, hospitalist and chair of Savie Health, which was awarded a grant to support its work providing preventative primary and behavioral healthcare to the uninsured in Lompoc, California.
The necessity to combine medication with ongoing support is also stressed by Dr Carol Lewis, a clinical psychologist who works in the University of Florida’s Department of Psychiatry.
“For many people, especially those who are under-resourced and have what we call serious and persistent mental illness, a combination of supportive services of a therapeutic nature is useful. And that includes the care coordination, which follows patients closely.”
Dr. Lewis is a volunteer at UF’s Mobile Outreach Clinic, a bus that travels to medically under-served local communities in low-income and rural areas, that is also a beneficiary of the program.
Community Routes: Access to Mental Health Care, a snapshot
*As determined by their wholesale acquisition cost (WAC)
Patients who attend these clinics are usually from low income, under resourced communities, and many are also undocumented immigrants and/or migrant workers.
“Our county is known for the crops we produce and many of the people we see in clinic are farm workers,” says Eryn Shugart, Executive Director at Savie Health. “A lot of the female farm workers especially are experiencing high levels of depression because their children are left behind in Mexico while they're working in the fields here. So, we are in the process of working to create a support group for those women.”
With limited financial resources come additional pressures. “People are really struggling,” says Eryn. “It's hard for them to feed their family daily and that can lead to depression and anxiety.”
In New Jersey, Jackie Meiluta, Executive Director of Volunteers in Medicine South Jersey (VIMSJ), explains that many of the people they support are employed in seasonal work in the holiday resorts of Cape May County.
“They are worried about providing food and paying their electric bills in the off season when they're working infrequently. They are juggling multiple part-time jobs. Many of them are undocumented, so they're also in fear of having their status divulged. So much of what we see is depression and stress-related anxiety.”
Teva grant funding – on-the-ground impact
More than half of the patients who attend Cape May’s VIMSJ clinic are non-English speaking, a key factor addressed by Teva’s grant funding, which provided support for culturally relevant, bi-lingual services, alongside clinical social worker Greg Speed.
“I see patients from mainly Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia,” says Greg, “and the Teva grant has provided me with the necessary support to offer ongoing mental health services to a population that has been largely underserved and discriminated against”.
Serving a clinic that is two-thirds Latino, funding allowed Savie Health to collaborate with the Family Services Agency to offer telehealth counselling services and contract two clinical social workers to provide behavioral health services in both English and Spanish.
Meanwhile, Florida’s Mobile Outreach Clinic has used the grant to do what Dr. Lewis describes as “an incredible project”, allowing them to offer a Community Wellbeing Mentor program. This training program equips key people in the community, from people who work in domestic violence shelters to people who work in food banks, with skills they can then pass on to others.
“We will continue to run treatment clinics, but the hope is really to expand our community-based programs promoting resilience and “wellbeing skills, in a continued community-based participatory way,” says Dr. Lewis.
Expanding the program across the US
The three clinics participated in Teva’s initial access program, which was launched in June 2022 to provide medicines and grant funding in the pilot states of Florida, New Jersey and California. In May 2023, medicine donations were expanded into seven new states across the US – Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia.
“With any public health program, it takes time to make an impact and see a difference,” says Carol Richardson. “Our goal at the end of two years is to convene all the grantees and develop a report to share best practices across the entire network of 1400+ free and charitable clinics in the US, creating a valuable resource for this community.”
In the end, it’s the people who make up these communities who benefit. “We heard the story of a single mom who was balancing being a caregiver to elderly parents and an adult child with disabilities while dealing with several health issues of her own. She had crushing anxiety and was really struggling when she sought help. After access to appropriate care, she has now applied for support services and is turning her life around. It’s heartening to hear the difference these clinics can make on the lives of people in need.”
Find out more
- Discover how Teva is helping vulnerable populations in Ghana and Israel access vital healthcare and support
- Meet some of the people helping to get our medicines to patients: Beryl Ojwang, Associate Medical Director
- WouId you like to be a part of our team, helping to improve patients’ lives? Check out our Careers page