By: Tim De Pass
Seeking support for mental health issues can be an awfully distressing experience and is a difficult system to navigate. What does OHIP cover? What type of support will fit my needs best? Am I ready for professional support? The minutia of searching where to go for support can be frustrating and confusing. But even more so, taking the step to reach out for help can produce feelings of shame and embarrassment in an individual. It takes a certain strength to bare your vulnerabilities out in the open, especially to a stranger.
The possibility of sharing the darkest, most hidden thoughts and feelings of your soul can increase anxiety levels to an all-time high. So, what are some support options when those feelings of anxiety are too powerful to overcome? For individuals who are not yet ready to step into a therapist’s office or see a doctor there is an emerging alternative.
An increasingly attractive option for seeking support is online therapy. This usually consists of becoming matched with a licensed therapist and speaking to them through online messaging. This provides a veil of anonymity which can eliminate the anxiety of a face-to-face session in an office. Talkspace is one organization that provides online therapy. This organization assesses your needs, matches you with a therapist, and then you can write to your therapist when you feel like.
Another popular web-based therapy is Beacon, which is a digital app. Beacon offers therapist- assisted cognitive behavioural therapy. The user completes an online assessment and gets paired with a Beacon therapist where communication takes place through texting on a secure network. You can reach out to your therapist whenever you have a question or concern and they respond with support within a day. It is immediate and an effective beginning step to receiving support.
Talkspace and Beacon create an opportunity for individuals to seek support without the feelings of shame that can be associated with stepping into a therapist’s office. Online therapy programs allow for more client control and provide timely delivery of support. Instead of having to wait a week to remember your thought processes and feelings, you can reach out to your therapist online and hear back within 24-hours. We are on our phones all the time and it is a part of our daily lives. This makes texting or messaging a therapist seems much less significant than a face-to-face session. This can make it easier for an individual to reach out for support. Receiving support becomes normalized and reduces stigma if it feels like we are just texting someone instead of a going to a major therapy session.
Reaching out for support can be terrifying. However, online therapy is a successful initial step. Diving head first into a therapy session can be overwhelming, which holds individuals back from seeking support. Online therapy provides the opportunity to get your feet wet first. The user can discover what works best for them and slowly become comfortable with therapy as they continue to take steps to improve their mental health.
Note: Conscious Counselling provides online video therapy/ phone therapy.