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How Online Therapy Can be Used to Tackle Mental Illness in the Post-COVID-19 World

The post-COVID-19 world promises to impact individuals, governments, and organizations differently. To some, it may be a jolly good run, while to others, it may warrant a drastic change. The health and medical sector, and specifically, online therapy will be impacted greatly.  According to the American Psychological Association (APA), online therapy, also known as Web […]

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The post-COVID-19 world promises to impact individuals, governments, and organizations differently. To some, it may be a jolly good run, while to others, it may warrant a drastic change. The health and medical sector, and specifically, online therapy will be impacted greatly. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), online therapy, also known as Web therapy, telepsychology, e-therapy, distance therapy, or internet therapy, may be as helpful as conventional therapy or meeting with a therapist in-person (face-to-face). 

Before considering online therapy for your problem, you must understand that APA has cautioned that those with more serious mental health concerns, like schizophrenia, PTSD, and substance use disorder should seek more attention and care than a remote treatment offers.

Causes of mental illness

You can be said to be mentally ill when you are completely unable to think or behave rationally in a controlled way. An individual can become mentally ill due to a lot of factors but as we are talking of the post-COVID-19 world, and we shall only look at unemployment and underemployment.

1. Unemployment

The research titled “Influence of Unemployment on Mental Health of the Working Age Population,” by the NCBI has revealed the extent an economic crisis can have on mental health. This research looked at the different employment statuses and came up with the conclusion that unemployment has a serious negative impact and even worsens the mental health of the working-age population. 

In comparison to the employed, the unemployed working-age participants in the research had strikingly poorer mental health. The highest mean mental health score for GHQ-28 (M=55.30), which incidentally was also the highest impairment of mental health status was attributed to those who were unemployed with previous working experience of more than five years.

2. Underemployment

People are said to be underemployed when they are in paid employment but are made to work fewer hours than they are capable of. This situation has been found out by the Centre of Research Excellence in Disability and Health (CRE-DH), to be linked with a significantly greater reduction in mental health especially among people who have physical disability issues.

The reason for this is not far-fetched. Society expects an employed person to shoulder a lot of responsibilities. Most often, friends and family members expect more from you financially. 

Your inability to attain their expectations will leave you distressed and frustrated, both of which can be the onset of mental illness.

The London School of Economics and Political Science found out after researching full-time workers and the underemployed that apart from their different financial statuses, there are also mental health inequalities. This is responsible for the great number of unemployed and underemployed people that suffer mental illness.

There is no need to overemphasize the fact that if we fail to avail persons in these categories with the relevant therapy, their cases can easily degenerate to complete mental disorder. Everybody used to depend on conventional therapy but the internet has changed all that.

The following are four ways we can effectively deploy online therapy in the post-COVID-19 world.

1. Complementing social distancing 

Social distancing may be one of the changes we must learn to live with after the pandemic, with online therapy this is attainable. It will also go a long way to solve the problems of a lot of people who live in remote areas and find it very difficult to access the services of conventional therapeutic services. 

Online therapy will also take care of the problems associated with a shortfall in the number of practitioners and even the reluctance of certain practitioners to reside in remote areas.  

2. Accessibility for those with physical limitations

Unfortunately, even some individuals with mental illness, also have mental issues complications. This group of more disadvantaged people will find it extremely difficult to regularly keep up with their schedule. 

Their disadvantaged situation means that they will be deprived of adequate treatment. Online therapy is, therefore, a good opportunity for them to easily access practitioners. 

They don’t have to worry about mobility which constitutes another source of concern when it comes to accessing mental health care since this can be done online. 

3. Affordability

The economies of the world and individuals have been ravaged by the pandemic and it will take time for the situation to normalize. Online therapy, on the other hand, can be relatively affordable and convenient when compared with conventional therapy. 

Given that you will be attending therapy sessions online in the comfort of your own home, you can often schedule your therapy sessions for times that are the most convenient for you. You also will not have to transport yourself to sessions which will save some much-needed costs, especially at this time.

It is a good development that many states in the U.S.have legislated that insurance providers should cover online therapy just as they would conventional therapy sessions. Despite this, online therapists still offer affordable treatment options for individuals that are not covered by health insurance.

However, you need to know that it’s not every state in the U.S. that will allow out-of-state therapists to provide services. If you find yourself in such a situation, you need to ensure that providers are accredited in both their home states and your own, before you can access their services.

4. An easier way of accessing information 

The internet has made it quite possible for you to arm yourself with information freely on issues of mental illness. Knowing fully well that this is not a topic people discuss freely because of the stigma attached to the illness, you may not be able to get much information from friends and colleagues.

Even if you don’t have a mental illness related case, online therapy is a good means and an important tool to help you update yourself about mental illness. Then, the information you have so acquired you about online therapy can ensure that you become stronger psychologically. 

What might seem a major setback is that online therapists may be ill-equipped to respond quickly and effectively when a crisis happens especially when such cases have to require their physical presence. 

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

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