With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay at home for an extended period of time, certain shifts took place within the mental health world. Working and learning remotely became a reality for most people, and many began to experience an increase in mental health issues. Stress, anxiety, and depression rates climbed, and it was clear an adjustment was needed to meet the needs of the population. That’s where technology came into play.
Throughout the past decade or so, rapid advancements in technology have been helping people cope with their mental health problems. Virtual counseling services, such as those offered by MyTherapist, have become a more popular option, and more accessible as well. There is still a lot of progress to be made, but these advancements in technology are proving to be helpful for so many people.
New Mobile Health Apps
While there are many more apps devoted to physical health topics like dieting and exercise, there are a growing number of apps dedicated solely to mental health. These apps work to calm the user down, help them meditate, remind them of their affirmations, and more. There are even apps that assist with helping those who have addictions. These are great tools to have to keep track of your progress, to use in between therapy sessions, and to use when you just need a pick-me-up at any time day or night.
While a therapist can’t be there at the drop of a hat or 24/7, apps can. Apps should not always be used as a replacement for therapy. Some mental health conditions require more assistance and treatment than others, so it will all depend on the person. Fortunately, you can go to therapy and use these apps simultaneously. There is no such thing as too much help.
It used to be that those who wanted counseling had to drive and see their counselor in person. Luckily, this is no longer the case. Patients can simply log in online and be face-to-face with their counselor in seconds. This could be the perfect option for those with busy schedules as many counselors will meet with you very early in the morning or very late at night. There are even options for live chatting, phone calls, and video calls, depending on what you’re looking for.
If you’d feel more comfortable not showing your face in the beginning, you could choose to live chat or talk on the phone. Virtual counseling removes barriers like not having access to a car to drive to the counselor’s office or not having the work or life schedule to be able to go. Even if you prefer to talk to a counselor face-to-face, it’s a great option to have if you ever change your mind.
Online Support Groups
Support groups used to only meet in person, but now many of them have gone online. This is a great option for people who don’t live near a city with a support group. It saves them the time and cost of driving great distances and is overall more convenient. It’s also a nice option for people who have social anxiety or don’t like large groups. Meeting online can create a more intimate feel to the group, and you’re free to log off if you ever get too uncomfortable. You can even mute your mic or hide your screen, whatever makes you feel the most at ease.
Reduction in Costs
Getting help for mental health issues is never easy, and the cost certainly doesn’t help. In fact, it is often a deterrent when people are considering reaching out for help. They worry about having the resources, especially the money, to pay for the services. So, many never end up receiving the care and treatment they need. However, with the creation of many new apps, accessing help at a low cost is easier than ever before. Many apps are free, and those that do cost money are often relatively inexpensive.
Whereas someone had to physically go see a therapist before, these free apps can now provide assistance to those experiencing any sort of mental health condition. Of course, these apps are not a substitute for therapy. However, they are a great option for people who don’t have access to the proper resources to get help and can act as a stand-in until the right assistance is available. Cost should never be the reason you don’t seek out help. There is always a way to receive care, so try not to get discouraged too easily and keep asking around until you’re satisfied with the care you’re receiving.
Overall, the improvements in technology that we see today have greatly contributed to better access to mental health services. These services could include anything from therapy to inpatient or outpatient care, among others. Technology will only continue to advance, and with these advancements will come even better resources and increased access to them.
Technology doesn’t discriminate based on age (although there might be a learning gap for some), so these improvements benefit everyone. The obstacles that once stood in people’s way are quickly falling down, and that’s something worth celebrating. Hopefully, we will see a shift in how mental health is prioritized and an overall decrease in the number of people struggling with their mental health. At the very least, it’s comforting to know there is more effort being put forth to improve everyone’s well-being.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-
related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health
resource with MyTherapist.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with
mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.