The COVID-19 pandemic virtually changed the way mental health services look. And when we say virtually, that’s exactly what we mean. A study published in Frontiers in Virtual Reality found that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, most mental health professionals saw their patients in person, but following the pandemic, almost all of them use telehealth tools for virtual sessions. Telehealth visits for mental health have proven to be quite effective, too. According to the American Psychological Association, virtual sessions with mental health experts have successfully treated issues like depression, substance abuse and eating disorders in a significant number of patients.
If you have been hesitant to see a mental health professional in person and are curious about the many benefits of a virtual visit, here’s a look at the pros of online therapy. For many Americans struggling with mental health, it can be the practical and most approachable solution to getting the help they need.
Access To More Doctors
Before virtual visits were a thing, patients were limited to doctors in their drivable area. But finding a therapist with whom you click is important, and sometimes you just can’t find one in your town. With virtual therapy sessions as an option, you can expand your search beyond your city limits. This means you can research and meet with therapists in other cities. That flexibility makes it easier to find the right provider for your needs, empowering you in your search for your best fit.
Online Therapy Equals Privacy
Not everyone wants people to know that they see a therapist, and that’s okay. Going to an in-office visit can mean you run the risk of seeing someone you know on the way there, and feeling uncomfortable when they ask what you’re doing in the area. In-office sessions can also trigger the concern that patients waiting in the lobby can hear your session. Online and virtual therapy lets you have your sessions from the comfort of your home, where you can enjoy privacy.
Skip The Traffic
Depending on where you live, the traffic you’d have to sit in to get to an in-person visit could cause anxiety. In some cities, you might need therapy just to address the anger issues that built up on the drive over. If you can relate and driving anxiety is a deterrent for you to see a therapist, virtual sessions eliminate this obstacle.
Virtual Therapy Can Be More Affordable
When you see a mental health professional in person, part of your fee goes to the actual treatment but part of it goes to paying their office rent, their office staff and other brick-and-mortar costs. However, today, many therapists operate entirely out of their homes, no longer paying to rent an office space. This means fewer expenses for them, and when you have virtual sessions, it can mean reduced costs for you.
Access For Those In Remote Areas
Patients who live in rural and remote areas might not have time to make the long commute into the city for an in-person session. For this reason, mental health services were largely inaccessible to those living far from a town or city center. The emergence of telehealth services means that all one needs is a good internet connection to receive mental health treatment.
Convenience For Busy Individuals
If you only have time for a therapy session, but not to drive to and from it, online therapy is a great solution. You only need to set aside enough time for treatment and nothing more. This is a major benefit for busy individuals who couldn’t previously break away from the home or office to drive to an in-person visit.
Access For Those With Physical Limitations
If you live with a physical condition that makes it difficult to leave your home, then virtual therapy sessions can mean that mental health treatment is finally possible. Mental health treatment is essential for everyone, but was previously only accessible to those who could physically go to an office. Hopefully, with the rise of online therapy, we will see more people – regardless of location or other limitations – get the help they need.