Online tools make mental health care accessible

Virtual therapy, whether through text, phone calls, video conferencing, or email, has been around for decades, but really took off after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

In a 2021 trends report from the American Psychological Association (APA), Jeanine Turner, a telehealth expert and professor at Georgetown University, says that without an event like the pandemic, the healthcare industry will not never would have fully embraced telehealth.

When COVID-19 restrictions prevented people from going for in-person mental health visits, the industry had no choice but to adapt. “Now it’s gone and there will be no turning back,” she said.

An APA survey found that 64% of its members had no telehealth cases in May 2020, but once the pandemic took hold, 85% of members said they saw more than three-quarters of their workload through teletherapy. Learn more at apa.org.

Barriers to rural care

According to a December American Farm Bureau survey that looked at the effects of the pandemic on mental health in rural America, half of rural adults believe members of their community attach at least a fair amount of stigma to health. mental illness, and 44% seeking treatment or help. for mental health. Nearly 90% of farmers said it was important to reduce the stigma around mental health in the farming community.

When asked about barriers to seeking help for a mental health problem, 73% cited cost, 63% availability, 63% accessibility, 60% stigma, and 59% embarrassment.

Online treatment can help reduce or eliminate most, if not all, of these barriers, and its growing availability means therapy is now a realistic option for rural residents.

Find care

A quick online search of online therapists in your state can help you find a match.

Verywell Mind, a Cleveland Clinic partner, offers ratings and reviews of websites and apps that help users find therapists. It awarded the “Best Online Therapy Programs of 2021” to the following (click here to read full reviews and a link to individual services):

  • Best overall: BetterHelp costs $240 to $360 per month, which can be reimbursed by insurance. It includes a weekly session of 30 to 45 minutes; virtual, audio and live chat options; and unlimited messaging at any time.
  • Overall finalist: Talkspace Online Therapy offers three packages ranging from $260 to $400 per month, plus medication management, couples therapy, and teen therapy.
  • Better customer satisfaction: Rethink My HealthCare does not accept insurance, but monthly plans cost $99 for singles, $129 for couples, and $159 for up to four family members. Membership includes anytime access to a therapist and medication management, but live messaging is not offered.
  • Ideal for couples: ReGain costs between $240 and $360 per month and includes unlimited messaging and communication via live chat, phone or video. The members of the couple can access the therapist individually or together.
  • Ideal for group therapy: Circles costs $80 per month with live video and unlimited messaging. Theme groups are led by licensed therapists or certified coaches and also offer emotional support from other members.
  • Ideal for Christians: Cornerstone Christian Counseling has a sliding price scale ranging from $55 to $175 per session depending on the therapist, and it offers discounts for those in financial need. Specialties include trauma therapy, couples and premarital counseling, and adolescent and family therapy.
  • Ideal for flexible hours: Amwell costs $109 to $129 per session and accepts many forms of insurance. Appointments with licensed therapists can be made on weekdays, evenings and weekends.
  • Best without insurance: Wellnite is one of the more affordable options at $75 per month. He offers medication and talk therapy, but only treats anxiety and depression.
  • Best with insurance: Cerebral costs as little as $29 per month with insurance plus copayment, and ships medications directly to patients’ homes.

Factors to remember

Therapists must be licensed in the state where the patient lives, whether the sessions are online or in person. Some therapists are licensed in multiple states, and some states offer reciprocity with others.

If your insurance doesn’t help pay for virtual therapy, do an online search for services in your state. In light of the pandemic, many states are offering free counseling services.

Some mental health issues and medications require in-person visits. Still, online sessions can be a good start for someone who has never sought therapy.

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According to the APA, studies have shown that telepsychology is as effective in most cases as in-person sessions.

Online therapy allows the rural population to access mental health care. You can speak with a therapist from the comfort and privacy of your home anytime.

Without having to think about going to an in-person session, you can focus on finding the program and therapist that’s right for you.

Melvin G. Rodriguez