Do I Need Counselling?
Mental health has always had a stigma associated with it and unfortunately, it is still there but with new technology, you can avoid most of these issues. What’s more, technology has gotten a bad rap lately as well with complaints about people staring at their phones all the time. So, why is it that putting these two together can make getting mental health care even easier? With all of the apps, online counselling, and other online services, people who would have typically gone untreated are now getting the help they need. When you make things easier and more accessible, people tend to use it more often.
No Transportation, No Problem
For example, those who live in rural areas or do not have any form of transportation are going to greatly benefit from both apps and online counselling. First of all, mental health maintenance apps such as anxiety or depression management apps are easy to use, and you don’t need to leave the house or talk to anyone. These apps are made to be self-sufficient and have exercises you can do with your phone like breathing techniques or anxiety level tracking, so you can keep track of your moods. You certainly do not need transportation of any kind to use any of these apps and many of them are free.
Another great technological advance is online counselling, especially with applications and platforms like BetterHelp. No matter where you live or whether you have a car or not, you can communicate with your counsellor or therapist any time online. By using your cell phone, tablet, computer, or any other electronic device, you can contact your counsellor through text, email, instant messaging, talking on the phone, or video conferencing with an app such as Skype or Face-time.
No Need for Day Care
This is also beneficial for those with young children and no child care and those with disabilities who have trouble getting around. With so many young adults who have too much on their plate as it is, being able to contact your counsellor from home may be a lifesaver. If you are trying to get through an anxious situation, you can just grab your phone and sent your counsellor a message no matter what time or day it is. They will answer you within one of two hours rather than one or two weeks or months you would have to wait with traditional counselling.
Getting Help is Easier
Over 43 million adults in the United States have a mental health condition and almost 60% of them go without treatment. Many times, the reason for the non-treatment is the condition itself. For example, those suffering from an anxiety disorder such as social anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have a difficult time going out in public. In addition, those with depression can have a hard time following through on appointments and some days do not even have the motivation to get up and get dressed. For these folks, going to traditional face to face counselling is next to impossible.
Technology at Your Fingertips
However, almost 90% of the people in the United States have regular internet access. As a matter of fact, over 50% have tablets and close to 80% have smartphones. So, putting these two things together is a win-win situation for everyone. Not only does it help the patients, but it also helps the counsellor because they do not have to limit themselves to a certain amount of appointments per day in one-hour blocks. When patients are able to text or message anytime, the counsellor is able to be available to more patients and can answer them when they are able to. Great benefits for everyone and it is all due to the awesome technology at your fingertips.
Mobile apps are also beneficial to those with addictions. There are apps that help those who are struggling with whatever habit they are trying to kick such as alcoholism, drugs, cigarettes, gambling, and even video games. These apps have different ways of helping such as the 12-step app for AA and NA, daily meditations, and consumption trackers. Some of these apps will connect you with support groups or counsellor if needed.
Internet Support Groups
Talking to other people who are going through similar issues as you can be incredibly therapeutic, and the internet is good for that too. In fact, there are hundreds of support group apps and internet-based support groups where you can join in through text, instant messaging, telephone, or video conferencing. There are support groups for almost anything you can think of including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, eating disorders, ADHD, relationship and marriage counselling, grief counselling, addiction, anger management, and much more.
Using the internet is not the only way to use that smart phone. You can also use it for telehealth. Nowadays, almost all doctors give you the opportunity to use telehealth. This works through phone or video conferencing and is becoming the most popular way to see a doctor. In fact, almost 75% of employers in the United States offer telehealth. This works just the same for mental health and, unless it is a crisis, internet and telehealth can be used for almost all conditions.
Another way that your phone can help you is by connecting you to someone who is available instantly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is just like the hotline you can call but you are able to use text rather than calling. This is good for many people who have a hard time talking about their feelings. For many, writing their thoughts and feelings is much easier than saying them out loud. And if you are in crisis, having a panic attack, or considering hurting yourself or someone else, using one of these hotline services can be a lifesaver.
Are They Effective?
Of course, there are going to be many people who claim that nothing is as effective as face to face therapy with your counsellor. However, studies have been done in the last two decades that prove internet counselling is just as good as traditional therapy. It can actually be much more effective because of those who would not have gotten help otherwise. After all, how effective can something be if you do not even try it? Many people suffering from all different types of mental health conditions are three times as likely to seek help if they can do it online rather than in person. Because some people just cringe at the thought of talking about their thoughts and feelings out loud.
The same goes for the apps and other technological mental health services. They are only effective for those who use it and, let’s face it, people are more apt to use something if it is available right there at their fingertips. Everyone is so focused on getting what they need “right now,” so having an app right there available on your cell phone, tablet, or laptop gives you that extra incentive. Because, with most mental illnesses, your symptoms come and go and when you are in the middle of a bad day or an anxiety attack, having that app at your fingertips makes it simple and easy.
Some of the other technological advances include those that your counsellors can use to help you get better such as virtual reality treatments. This type of technology makes it possible for your counsellor to expose you to certain situations and stimuli that are related to or have caused flashbacks, anxiety, or depression. They can do this in a comfortable and safe environment with the aid of headsets that use sounds and images that have been known to create bad feelings or thoughts. During the therapy, the counsellor will talk to you about your feelings and this can help you become desensitized to certain triggers.
Some new technology is coming soon that can help indicate and predict dangerous issues like manic episodes in bipolar patients, suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, and high anxiety in those with anxiety disorders. While these are still in the testing stages, they show promising results so far. For instance, there are certain apps that can read your texts or tell when you are feeling manic or anxious because of the speed of your typing. Also, there are those that track your finances and spending habits for those who are gambling or shopping addicts. Other smart software can immediately contact emergency contacts if a trigger word or phrase is texted or spoken. For example, if someone who has depression writes that they are thinking of killing themselves in their online journal, the software would contact their emergency contacts to let them know.
More to Come
All of this new technology is becoming more and more advanced by the day and we will constantly be updating our phones and apps, getting the latest programs, and using the newest online services that help us feel better. Because we want to feel better. If you or someone you care about is having signs of a mental health condition, consider finding the right counsellor for you today.
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