Most people experience a mental health challenge at some point in their lives. It might be something relatively common, such as nervousness or anxiety. Or a constant vague fear that the details of one’s life are fragile and impermanent.
Or maybe it’s something more than that. Either way, mental health issues touch most lives sooner or later. It’s normal and nothing to be ashamed of. But when problems arise, it’s important to seek help—for your quality of life and the lives of those around you.
Traditionally, that has meant visiting a doctor or therapist’s office. Thanks to the proliferation of digital technology, it’s now much easier to enjoy a variety of mental health options. In this article, we take a look at how virtual coaches can support those with mental health conditions.
Virtual health coaches help individuals identify and address physical and mental health conditions to improve their overall quality of life. They empower clients to create goals and strategies to improve their well-being and prevent or manage illness, including mental health problems.
Some people avoid traditional, in-person mental health support because they are concerned with the associated stigma. What if Heather from down the street sees me walk into Dr. Monroe’s office?
Heather is probably a perfectly decent woman, not likely to think poorly of a neighbor seeking a little bit of mental health support. If she’s like most Americans, she’s experienced her own struggles with mental health in the past.
Nevertheless, that fear of being seen, and consequently, seen differently, can be enough to keep many people from seeking help. A virtual coach eliminates that risk. Counseling services take place from the privacy and comfort of your home. Heather will never know about it.
It’s worth mentioning that stigma concerning mental health has diminished considerably in recent years. This owes to several factors, including more awareness.
Many people with mental health issues, be they common ones like anxiety and depression or more debilitating ones like schizophrenia, have become comfortable speaking out about their experiences. There has also just been a broader cultural shift toward supporting individuals with mental health concerns.
Nevertheless, worry about stigma is still in play for many people.
You’re a busy working person. Forty hours a week is how your employer frames it, but you know that’s a bit of a misnomer. Forty hours in the office, sure. But there’s the commute and those after-hours emails that aren’t supposed to happen but always do.
Your free time is precious to you. Virtual mental health coaching offers a comfortable solution. Skip the commute. Make the appointments to suit your schedule. Do it all in your sweatpants if you want.
Many regions of the United States don’t have easy access to mental health services. Rural areas are a prime example. While they typically have modest populations, rural communities can be geographically enormous.
Let’s say that Coles County, Illinois, has one mental health professional operating in the area. A reasonable number considering Charleston, the county seat, has only six thousand people. The other “nearby” towns fall substantially short of that number.
The problem? This one professional is servicing 500 square miles. For residents that don’t have consistent access to transportation, this can make seeking mental health assistance next to impossible.
And you don’t have to be living in a rural area to struggle with getting to a psychologist. Maybe you have agoraphobia (fear of leaving home or of crowded places). Maybe you just don’t drive. There are many situations that can make it difficult for people to seek the help they need. Virtual coaching tears down physical barriers, making it easier for almost everyone to seek mental health support.
A Variety of Options
Let’s take a trip back to Coles County, Illinois. One therapist, Dr. Klein. She’s very good at what she does. But Sarah has a bit of a problem. She used to date Dr. Klein.
So that’s out. The next nearest doctor lives in Champagne, about an hour out. Sarah has never dated this person, but she also doesn’t have a few spare hours in her schedule to devote to driving each week.
Online telehealth and counseling services allow her to seek help from professionals all over the country. All over the world, if she would like.
Of course, there doesn’t have to be a big dramatic reason why some mental health professionals aren’t a good fit. Maybe they don’t have much experience handling your specific issues. Or maybe you just don’t connect with them the way you need to.
If your community has limited access to other doctors, that alone could make it much harder to get help. Online counseling opens the entire world up to you.
But is it as Effective?
That’s the question that keeps many people away from seeking virtual help. Will this session be as impactful as an in-person session? Studies show it is.
Virtual counseling is as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy for dealing with the same conditions. There may be social benefits to being in the same room as someone, but they are often outweighed by the barriers to accessing on-site therapy.
And post-pandemic, most people are familiar with the skills required to engage in meaningful virtual communication. There are still accessibility problems, to be sure. Experts refer to this as the “digital divide”— the gulf between people who have access to digital technology and those who don’t.
Nevertheless, that gap is shrinking daily, particularly in the United States. It is now easier than ever for people experiencing a variety of mental health issues to seek high-quality treatment from the comfort of their homes.
If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.Contact a Resource Specialist
About the Author: Sarah Daren has been a startup consultant in multiple industries, including health and wellness, wearable technology, nursing, and education. She implements her health knowledge into every aspect of her life, including her position as a yoga instructor and raising her two children.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/confident-elegant-lady-in-eyeglasses-hosting-webinar-4491461/
The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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