Are you battling with feelings of depression and anxiety? Or, are you perhaps overwhelmed by the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic and its consequences on yourself and your family? Do you need to speak to a psychologist or counselor? However, you are not in a position to visit and in-office counselor. What are your alternatives?
Before discussing the alternatives to visiting a therapist’s brick-and-mortar rooms, let’s look at the current global crisis that has caused, and continues to cause, havoc amongst the world’s citizens.
COVID-19: The global pandemic that insists on staying
While this subheading might be considered a false statement from a scientific point of view, to the layman, it is an accurate representation of a highly contagious virus that seems to adapt its behavior to expand its lifespan and global reach.
Global researchers have found six different strains. The article titled “The six strains of SARS-CoV-2” notes that even though there are currently six known variations, the virus does not demonstrate significant variability. This is good news for researchers working on the development of a vaccine.
However, the virus is exceptionally contagious and spreads via human-to-human transmission, which means that without a vaccine, the only way to prevent the virus from spreading is through social isolation or social distancing. In other words, human beings must stay away from each other.
Most of the world’s population spent large parts of the first six months of 2020 under hard lockdown or shelter-in-place conditions in an attempt to slow down and control the virus’s spread. Once the Reproduction (R) number had dropped below one, countries started opening up again, and citizens could move around. The consequences being that the infections or R-rate began to rise.
The USA is a unique case in that the virus numbers spiked in states like New York State and dropped to acceptable levels after a hard lockdown was implemented. However, the numbers kept rising in other states, and now the USA has the highest number of infections and deaths across the world. Current reported figures for the USA indicate almost 7.3 million infections and over 209 000 deaths.
The mental health consequences of COVID-19
Apart from the physical health impacts of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the other areas where the virus has a devastating effect are the global economy and mental health and wellbeing of the world’s population.
Statistics show that the global unemployment rate has risen to 15% of the world’s population. Circa 28% of the UK, Germany, Italy, and France residents were furloughed or sent home from work without pay. The US unemployment rate hit 10.4%.
The IMF believes that the global economy will shrink by 3% in 2020, making it the worst decline since the 1930s Great Depression. The world is currently in the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. To date, the global economy has lost about $8 trillion (USD) due to the almost instantaneous shutdown of the global economy.
The consequences of the global pandemic on the world’s population’s mental health are in the process of being quantified. Current research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic “has radically changed life in the United States and around the globe, posing multiple conjoint threats to public mental health.”
These threats include the following:
- The fear of being infected by the virus
- A change in financial circumstances caused by the economic recession
- The consequences of social distancing and social isolation on the human psyche
Online therapy: A solution to the mental health crisis
It is clear that the world is facing a mental health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A research study titled “The Role of Psychologists in Health Care Delivery” illustrates the fact that “advances in the biomedical and the behavioral sciences have paved the way for the integration of medical practice towards the biopsychosocial approach.”
In other words, psychotherapy is an integral part of the holistic healthcare model.
The continued social distancing requirements have led to an increase in digital solutions to the psychotherapy distance model. Consequently, several online platforms, such as Talkspace, have been developed.
What is Talkspace?
Before we answer this question, it’s worth noting that reading a Talkspace review is an excellent way of determining whether the platform will suit your counseling requirements.
Succinctly stated, Talkspace is an online counseling platform that embraces both text or messaging therapy as well as live therapy.
There are three therapy plans to choose from:
- Messaging Therapy Plus, where a therapist will respond to text, video, and audio messages five days a week
- Messaging Therapy Premium. This, the most popular plan, includes unlimited messaging plus one live 30-minute session per month.
- The LiveTalk Therapy Ultimate is the plan that offers the best value for money. It provides unlimited messaging plus four live 30-minute sessions per month.
The differences between Talkspace and other online therapy platforms
Talkspace is unique in that it offers an “always on” approach. The daily messaging feature provides a constant connection between patient and therapist. Other platforms offer the standard one or two live sessions per week, with the patient having to cope without and emotional support between sessions.
Let’s look at a brief scenario or case study to demonstrate the value of the text, audio, and video messaging model versus the once a week live session method.
Let’s assume that you suffer from depression and anxiety. It is usually under control with prescription medication, but you haven’t needed psychotherapy for a couple of years.
Enter the COVID-19 pandemic.
And you are one of the many people across the world whose symptoms are exacerbated by the pandemic. You know that there are good days and bad days and have coping mechanisms to get through the bad days. Unfortunately, the panic attacks have spiraled out of control, and you are experiencing suicide ideation.
So you decide to sign up for therapy again, this time online treatment as you work from home and would instead not go out too much at the moment.
The benefit of signing up with Talkspace’s LiveTalk Therapy Ultimate plan is that not only do you get one live session a week (4 per month), but your therapist is online when you are at your lowest point via the messaging feature. Therefore, the possibility to engage with a professional to talk you through the suicide thoughts and panic attacks is preferable to the once a week therapy model.