The pandemic has caused mental health problems for so many of us and to say 2020 was a struggle is a bit of an understatement. Mental health issues come in many different forms, from anxiety and stress to depression and PTSD, and none should be brushed off or individuals told to ‘deal with it’.
Mental health aid has come a long way in recent decades, although still not perfect, we are certainly starting to see a huge change with how help is provided and the stigma being removed of having these struggles. Those who train therapists and other mental health providers, such as RTT have been welcoming these changes and have been seeing the benefits it provides to their clients.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has brought many barriers within our lives and that includes how people are treated for the mental ailments. A COVID19 study on US residents revealed that the public is having to adapt to new regulations set in place to keep us safe, while still attending to their mental health needs.
Search Interest For Online Therapy
In 2020, Google searched for online therapy surged and many peaks were in-line with major events happening around the pandemic. Traditionally, those seeking therapy reached the highest demand during the ‘January blues’, in 2020, those searches had risen by 96% by March once the pandemic had been officially declared.
This would not have just been those who are seeking their first sessions after admitting they need help. There are millions of people around the world who rely on their therapists to help them through their daily lives and depend on regular sessions heavily.
With lockdowns, quarantine and social distancing set in place, there were very few providers who were able to offer their regular services. While the public can cope for a few weeks or months without visiting their favourite cafe or going to the cinema, missing therapy sessions can be incredibly detrimental to many mental health patients.
Another reason for people reaching out for online help is actually one of the few positives of the ‘new way of living’. Those living in certain areas may not have had access to the best professionals, especially if they suffer from very specific or major mental health issues.
Now with online therapy, the barrier of location is removed and no matter where in the world the professional is located, patients who need them can gain access to their services. In fact, there is a lot of talk within the world of mental health about how much easier it is for people to get help this way.
Busy working parents or those who suffer from anxiety or agoraphobia can find it incredibly difficult to get to a therapist’s office and attend sessions. This removes that barrier.
Of course, we can not forget the obvious reason as to the popularity of online sessions, the safety of a computer screen means there is no risk to the therapist or the patient when it comes to transmission of COVID19.
Other Methods To Cope
Those who are struggling are seeking other methods to help cope during this major historical crisis. Mental health and wellbeing apps are no new invention, but their popularity has reached an all-time high.
Headspace, Calm and Better Help experienced search interest of up to 100% in 2020. These apps should not be seen as an alternative to therapy but as a good supplement to treatment or as a short-term solution while a professional is being found with the right expertise for the patient.
“Our work as psychologists is to help people look at their minds. There are so many mental health apps out there, but they have a short-term effect if people don’t look at their minds and their ingrained beliefs.”- Yasmine Saad, Ph.D. (Psychiatrist).
However, if those without mental health conditions are benefitting from these apps. Many reviews in the app store specifically state that users downloaded these because of the ill-effects of the pandemic and how they were struggling in certain elements and needed some help to cope.
From a sense of centredness, maintaining a form of routine or simple breathing techniques if helping people with all manner of concerns. From those finding it hard to cope juggling working from home and childcare, to others who are worried about loved ones and job security, these apps are providing their worth during this time.
Online mental health apps are not the only tools providing comfort to people but communication apps are too. Due to social distancing measures, business premises have had to close which has meant that employees can no longer interact with colleagues directly in person and instead have to use online communication apps to communicate with their colleagues online while working remotely.
For the mental well-being of employees, it is important that businesses find a way to incorporate team gatherings and social activities through online methods to ensure that their employees can still feel happy and remain connected with their colleagues so that they don’t feel isolated.
Seeking Therapeutic Help
It’s no secret that mental health is really taking a hit during this time, thankfully, professionals have not managed to adapt and overcome previous barriers. If you are struggling with your mental health in any way, the sooner you seek help, the better.
If you don’t know where to start, a quick search online can help you go in the right direction and any good professional you speak to will be candid with their expertise and would recommend a colleague or another professional should they feel they are not right for you.