This year has seen a massive increase in people suffering from mental health related issues and this is mostly down to the stress and anxiety caused by or as a result of coronavirus. You might even say the state of our mental health is a pandemic in itself. Whereas in the past people may have sought help from their GP who would likely then refer them to a therapist, when the virus was at its peak and lockdown rules at their most strict, this wasn’t so easy. In response to this there has been a growing trend in the use of online therapy to enable people to get the support and help they need during this worrying time.

Some people may still be a little dubious about how effective online therapy could possibly be, after all isn’t part of the process all about interpreting body language and having direct human contact? While that may be the case, there are also benefits to be had from using e-therapy. We’ve put together 5 reasons it is better to use online therapy to help you improve your mental health.

1. Flexibility

By far one of the biggest reasons people choose online therapy is because of how convenient it is. If you see a therapist in person, you need to book an appointment that fits in with the therapist’s schedule, there can often be long waiting lists, and if you’ve been referred by your GP the wait will be even longer. However, depending on who you go with, online therapists are usually available 24-7, meaning they fit in with your schedule rather than the other way around.

For people who lead busy lives, the convenience factor alone could make all the difference between them getting help or continuing to try and cope on their own. And then of course there are people with restricted mobility, people who live in remote areas, people who suffer with agrophobia, the list goes on. Online therapy allows support to all, on your terms, in your time, at your chosen location.

The best part? By making access to therapists easier, those people who may have previously been put off of the idea of speaking to a therapist because of time or other restrictions, are much more likely to proactively seek help.

2. Safe Space

There has long been a stigma attached to ‘having therapy‘ and for many this could be the first time that they have reached out for help. We talk about mental health a lot more these days, which is great, however there is still a long way to go in terms of making people feel that it is OK to talk about their feelings and emotions.

The very purpose of counselling is to allow a person to open up and to talk about their problems, feelings, worries etc. and what better place to do that than in a place you feel at your most relaxed. Talking to a therapist in the comfort of your own home or within a space you feel safe in is a great option if you are prone to getting stressed or feeling anxious in new environments.

Following on from the flexibility and convenience that online counselling gives you, being able to talk freely in a comfortable and relaxed space means you can again easily fit it into your lifestyle and daily plans. It doesn’t matter if you’re still in your pyjamas, hair unbrushed, cuppa in hand, as no one can see you… well unless you’re having a video session of course

All you need is somewhere quiet, somewhere familiar, somewhere comfortable, and ideally somewhere that has decent WiFi and you’re good to go.

3. Choice

Depending on where you live, the choice of therapists in your area may be limited. One of the huge benefits of going online is that location isn’t a problem and therefore you can have the pick of the bunch. Likewise, if you have been referred by your GP, they will only work with a handful of therapists and you are unlikely to get a choice.

Every case is different and therefore every need is different too. Being able to choose from a wide variety of therapists online means you are able to find someone who is more specific to your personal needs. Just make sure you do your research and look for recommendations and reviews to help you make your decision. And don’t be afraid to ask for credentials, although most online therapists will display their qualifications within their bio.

You may have a few sessions with one therapist and realise it’s not working for you, perhaps the relationship hasn’t developed properly, or you don’t feel that things are progressing in the way you would like. Ultimately, finding the right therapist is key and using an online service means it is easy to switch halfway through your sessions should you feel you need to.

4. Opening Up

When you talk to someone online there is often a sense of freedom that you may not feel elsewhere. You don’t know these people and they don’t know you, not properly, and that can be incredibly liberating. It can make you feel open and relaxed enough to reveal your deepest. darkest secrets. There are pros and cons to this of course, and while this may not be the perfect solution long term, it is certainly a means of getting the conversation started, and that is important in the early stages of therapy.

Many of us are now so accustomed to interacting with people using technology. This pandemic may have disconnected us in the flesh but we have more than made up for it by staying as connected as we possibly can by using video chats, social media and even good old fashioned phone calls. We are just as happy, if not more so, to discuss serious issues on a virtual platform than we are in face-to-face situations.

Online therapy can also help to eliminate any of the social stigmas associated with seeing a therapist. There can often be feelings of shame, guilt, or a sense of worthlessness that surrounds mental health and this can put people off seeking professional help. They don’t want to be a burden, they don’t want to appear over dramatic, they don’t want others to worry. It is far easier however, to look for advice and guidance online, without anyone knowing (if that is what you want). Small steps are still steps in the right direction.

5. Affordable Option

We are incredibly fortunate to have the NHS in this country, which means it is possible to see a therapist for free. However, waiting lists are long, choice is limited, and you may therefore feel as though you’d be better off going private, which of course means spending money… potentially a lot of money.

Online therapy isn’t free, but it is cheaper than traditional therapy sessions as there are far less overheads for them, for example there is no office rental, and there are no associated costs such as fuel or travel expenses for us.

Health is far more important than wealth and it should always be a top priority no matter whether it is our physical or our mental health. Online services offer an affordable option and it is well worth exploring as a means of looking after and caring for your mental wellbeing.

It’s about time mental health and the conversations surrounding it are normalized. We all have mental health, some of us are in better shape than others, some of us ebb and flow and may have good days and bad, but we all experience some degree of mental health concerns throughout our lives.

Online therapy offers us the means to keep our mental health in check in a convenient, easy, affordable, and approachable way in the times we need it the most.

*collaborative post

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