Almost 60 million people in the United States suffer from some type of treatable mental health condition such as depression or an anxiety disorder, but less than one-third of them get treatment. Over half of these people say they don’t get help because it is difficult to get because of cost, availability, and the lack of mental health care providers. Those who do not get help are more likely to have other comorbid conditions, even physical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So, what can be done to help make mental health care more accessible? Online therapy is the key.
On the Rise
In the past decade, telehealth, including online therapy has become very popular. In fact, according to BCC Research, online mental health care has grown by 54.9% in the past five years from 2.4 billion in 2013 to 21.5 billion in 2018 and 80% of the American population admit to going online for health information in general, which is about 93 million people. Why is telemental health so popular and is it as effective as traditional therapy?
Sometimes it can take weeks or even months to get an appointment with a traditional therapist, but with online therapy, you do not need an appointment and you can contact them anytime you want, day or night. Although, depending on the time and day, it could take several minutes or hours before they get back to you but that is much better than waiting several months. For more about online therapy, check out Betterhelp.com
Online therapy is approximately $40 to $70 per week, which is billed monthly, while traditional face to face therapy is about $250 to $500 per hour. The reason the costs are so low is because the therapist saves money by not having to pay to for an office, employees, or office supplies.
With online therapy, you can communicate through instant messaging, texting, email, chat rooms, or a regular phone call, keeping your identity to yourself. You do not even have to give the therapist your real name. This is also important to those who are embarrassed or afraid of the stigma of mental illness. Not having to go to a therapist’s office means you can keep your mental health care to yourself.
For those who live in rural areas, have no transportation, or are physically unable to get around easily, the convenience of online therapy is hard to beat. You do not have to worry about how to get to the office since you can talk to your therapist right from your own home. This is also essential for those who have anxiety disorders that prevent them from being comfortable out in public or even going outside at all. Those with severe depression benefit as well because some days they may not feel like getting out of bed, let alone getting dressed and going to an appointment.
Being able to contact your therapist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is great for people who have weird working hours, trouble sleeping, panic attacks, or just because you were awake at 3:00 AM and needed to get something off your mind. Even though your therapist may take some time to get back to you, writing out your thoughts and feelings in an email, texts, or message can be as therapeutic as writing in a journal.
Online Versus Traditional Therapy Effectiveness
These things that make online therapy so popular are also the reasons why it is so effective. Since many of those who are not getting treatment do so because of inaccessibility, cost, and lack of care, the fact that online therapy conquers these issues (and more) means these people will get care. And treatment cannot be effective if you are not getting any at all. Therefore, making treatment available to more people means online therapy is not just as effective as traditional therapy but more effective than traditional therapy.
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 BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.