Mental health implications are just as drastic as the physical ones of the pandemic. While devastating numbers of people have suffered from the virus itself, increasing numbers of people are being indirectly affected by the uncertainty of 2020 and mental health is suffering.

What is typically considered ‘normal’ avenues to follow during a mental health crisis are no longer available as widely as they were before. Business closures, government regulations and social distancing guidelines have led to those healthcare professionals and their students trying to learn how to become a therapist are having to place their studies on hold.

This is leading to a shortage of mental healthcare professionals during a time when demand is incredibly high, we take a look into recent COVID19 research about the impact of online therapy and how the US public are looking for new ways to cope during the pandemic.

What Is Causing Poor Mental Health

While the pandemic has left us all with different experiences and highs and lows throughout 2020, there are common themes throughout almost everyone that can have a negative impact on our emotions and thought process.

The economy is struggling and unemployment is rising faster than ever. Financial troubles are something that many of us experience within our lifetime but these unprecedented numbers of jobless individuals and diminishing new roles available, these troubles are rising at a rapid rate.

Struggling with money will impact mental health, from worries of paying mortgages, feeding families and losing health insurance, it is easy to see why this would impact mental health.

Alongside this, social isolation and loneliness are growing in the US. Being able to travel to see family, especially during the holidays, are leading to many people struggling internally. Even simple things such as seeing colleagues every day can be incredibly beneficial on mental health, but now more of us are working from home and a video call just isn’t the same.

Of course, the ever-growing uncertainty and worry about how the world has changed and how long these new measures will last is leading to many people experiencing mental health issues.

However, mental health can be impacted for many reasons and what may be ‘fine’ for someone else could cause havoc to someone else.

The impact of mental health issues can lead to many other symptoms including sleep disruption, disorientation, heightened stress and anxiety and increasing forgetfulness. If not properly addressed, this can lead to long-term depression and even PTSD.

The ‘New’ Way of Coping

We are all having to adapt to the ‘new normal’ in almost every element of our lives and therapists are having to do the same. After studying for years to become a therapist, many practices are now having to change how they do things.

Virtual sessions are becoming more frequent and do have their benefits compared to their previous in-house counterparts. Being able to video chat with anyone around the world means that patients can access the best care possible, no matter where they are located.

Searches for ‘online therapy’ have risen significantly in 2020 and some therapists are struggling to meet demand as there are simply too many sessions wanted and not enough time in the day. For this reason, many who previously struggled to find work in 2020 have taken this opportunity to undertake courses in how to become a psychotherapist as the industry is currently booming.

While modern technology has allowed therapy sessions to continue, they still aren’t available to everyone. Loss of income means many households have very little spare cash and mental health care can be costly, especially if health insurance has been lost.

Technology is presenting another solution in the form of mental health apps. Interest in these have sourced over 100% since 2019 and after analysing reviews, it appears that these applications really can help individuals.

While it must be stressed that mental health apps, such as Headspace, should not be seen as an alternative to therapy, they are a great short-term solution until help can be given. Providing a way to practice mindfulness and feeling centred can make a positive difference to mental health.

Many therapists are recommending these apps in conjunction with their sessions to provide maximum results during this time. As these can be used from the comfort of patients’ own homes and removing the risk of being exposed to the virus, they are certainly a popular choice.

If you or anyone you know are showing signs of depression, anxiety, stress or anything else that is showing a negative impact on your life, don’t be afraid to seek professional advice. The sooner this is sought, the better.

If this is out of your reach due to financial reasons, call your local mental health charity who can offer free advice on the next steps to help you cope with your mental health issues.

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