Before COVID-19 rocked the world, in the worst way possible, many people were seeing their therapists in-person. Online therapy was becoming increasingly popular, with companies like BetterHelp and Talkspace. However, people had many options for mental health care. Once we started social-distancing, ways to meet with a therapist or counsellor became severely limited. People (including myself) have been struggling to maintain relationships with their therapists. We can’t meet with a mental health professional in-person because it’s dangerous. You risk exposing yourself to the virus, or you could be a carrier and not know. That’s why tele-health and online therapy has become vital. I’m meeting with my therapist virtually through a HIPAA compliant video chat. Many people are talking with a mental health professional via phone or chat. Access to care is difficult at the moment. But we’re making it work.
The world has been experiencing a collective trauma with the pandemic. Even those who haven’t engaged in therapy may be wondering if they need it. It’s understandable if you want to seek support at this time. We’re experiencing extraordinary circumstances, and there’s nothing wrong with seeking help. Unfortunately, there are barriers that prevent some people from getting the support they need. Here are some of the issues they’re facing:
Financial costs - in the United States and Canada, many people have been laid off from their jobs. Some positions that seemed reliable and steady are gone. That leaves people without a regular income, or (for some) a lack of health insurance. The absence of any of these things could cause people to stop seeing a therapist or looking for one.
Stigma - people who are afraid to seek mental health treatment continue to be fearful.
Lack of in-person mental health treatment - Another aspect of this is that a person may feel strange trying online therapy or tele-health. Maybe they’re more comfortable seeing a therapist in person, but they can’t do that because of the pandemic and its limitations.
Some people are happy to have access to online therapy and feel more comfortable using it. We see that more with the millennial generation.
Millennials are accustomed to communicating using technology. They’ve grown up with smartphones and tablets and find texting and messaging to be the norm. That’s why online therapy could be an excellent fit for these individuals. It’s not just the younger generation who likes online counselling. For those who have social anxiety, or have demanding inflexible jobs, online therapy is a great fit. During the pandemic, we don’t have a choice. Telehealth and online counselling are all we have, in addition to free support groups, but they’re not a substitute for therapy.
## Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
If you’re having trouble managing mental health concerns during COVID-19, please don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Online therapy is a viable treatment option. It’s imperative to seek support if you’re suffering. It’s a challenging time for all of us. It’s okay to ask for help. If you’re seeing a therapist via tele-health or online therapy, I implore you to keep up your treatment. If you are looking for an introduction to self-care options or are interested in finding professional help, companies like Speakbox are out there with innovative solutions that can help make managing mental health simple and effortless.
Speakbox is a therapeutic support platform that helps therapists and clients collaborate throughout their relationship. With Speakbox, you can share therapy notes and clients have access to self-management tools like mood tracking, goal setting, and a therapeutic care plan. What’s unique, is all of this information is available at your fingertips and can be shared with your therapist with little effort, reducing the need to review history during each session. Most importantly, if you ever need to move and find a new therapist, all of this data moves with you, eliminating the struggle of starting from scratch.
Free for you, Speakbox is available for therapists through a monthly subscription plan, offering a full kit of support resources along with practice management tools. As a contributor to your care, you can suggest using this helpful tool to your therapist to help move the needle towards patient-centered care. Let us keep helping and supporting each other during the pandemic. You are not alone.
Sarah Fader is CEO and Co-Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories online and in published anthologies. She has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Quartz, Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, HuffPost Live, GoodMenProject, TheMighty, Ravishly, YourTango, and on Good Day New York www.sarahfader.com