How Online Counseling is the Need of This Hour?
The realm of technology has played an increasing role in health care over the last several years. While telehealth has been used in certain settings for 20 years, it’s use has been increasing by leaps and bounds in the last five years. Online counseling is just one way that technology such as websites and mobile apps have increased access to health care.
Popularity of Telehealth
Access to healthcare has been a major problem in the United States, and telehealth is perhaps the most effective method that has been employed in remedying the problem. According to one article, today’s healthcare is 50 percent technology. Telehealth is just one of those technological pieces that are increasing access to healthcare for many.
Access to Mental Health Care
According to a study by Mental Health America, over 56 percent of Americans in need of mental health services went without any kind of treatment in 2017. There are several reasons for this, including insurance coverage, affordability, and access to mental health professionals.
Finding a therapist for counseling in a major metropolitan city might be easy enough. But finding mental health providers in rural areas or even suburbs might be a different matter. When psychologists are few and far between, finding a provider can be a nightmare if not impossible.
One of the big challenges for many people is being able to afford the mental health services they require. An in-person counselor charges an average of $75 to $150 for one session. While the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to cover mental health services, this is not a guarantee that insurance will pay for counseling. About half of clinical psychologists in the US do not accept insurance.
Telehealth is the Answer
Through technology like websites and mobile apps, people in all areas of the country and from all walks of life can have access to affordable counseling. Telehealth counseling is much cheaper than in-person sessions. In addition, telehealth services allow individuals to speak to a therapist in their state without having to travel to the city in which they are located.
Mobile Apps Increase Access
Mobile apps greatly increase access to this healthcare. While not everyone has a computer, about 75 percent of Americans have a smartphone. Mobile apps such as those offered by BetterHelp also allow users to talk to a therapist in privacy, as a smartphone can be taken into a car or other location that is isolated and away from other members of the household or workplace.
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Benefits for Providers
While the benefits to patients are clear, there are also many benefits to telehealth for the therapists themselves. One article from the American Psychological Association outlined the benefits that therapists can get from offering services through websites and mobile apps like BetterHelp.
The primary benefit is that these psychologists can increase their income without increasing their office hours. Retired psychologists can also increase their income by working part-time out of their own home. Professors can increase their income and keep their therapy practice strong through these telehealth services as well.
Overall, it is easy to see why online counseling has become so popular with both patients and providers. While there are some pitfalls that must be avoided, online counseling platforms that are well designed and managed are greatly beneficial for all.