One of the greatest mysteries of the modern era is the curious stigmatism behind mental health. Chances are, you may be one of the 350 million people who suffer from depression or the 1 in 13 that are coping with anxiety worldwide. When such a large number of us struggle to get out of bed or experience gut-wrenching panic attacks, why do we keep mum?
Mental health is often swept under the rug because it isn’t perceived in the same way physical health is. With mental health, it is viewed as something that is wrong with you; something that was messed up in the wiring of your brain, and most upsettingly, something that can’t be fixed in the way you can put a bandage on a cut. The word “disorder”, which is often used to describe mental health, is enough to make a person feel like an out-of-order vending machine. It helps explain why millions of cases go undiagnosed. People don’t want to believe that their recurring issues mean that they have a “malady”, an “ailment”, or that their body is “dysfunctional” – all words that come up as synonyms for the “disorder” on Google. So, underlying issues are brushed off and labeled as another “bad week”, only to resurface again.
When your mum or your best mate can’t seem to understand, it may help to look for an expert. Therapy can help someone manage their diagnosis the same way physical therapy can be used to help someone walk again. But, in both cases, baby steps are necessary. Therapy as it was in the past required some research into the location of your nearest clinic, the kinds of therapists offered (just look up the difference between behavioral and cognitive therapy), and finally the availability of both you and the therapist. It isn’t hard to see why therapy, which can be remarkably helpful, becomes as dreaded as your biannual dentist appointment.
Fortunately, it seems as though technology has come to the rescue once again. Apps like Talkspace have recently popped up on CNN and Fox, and have been reviewed in The Wall Street Journal. Tailored for a variety of needs including programs for couples, veterans, the LGBT community, and social media dependency, it’s clear Talkspace has something for pretty much everyone with their over 1,000 therapists.
Unsure if online therapy is for you? No problem. Talkspace has an accessible website that allows you to read patient reviews, browse therapists, get assessed, and instantaneously chat with a therapist to ask questions. Much like the ubiquitous dating apps these days, Talkspace follows a similar process when they set you up with a licensed therapist in your area after an initial phone conversation to assess your needs. Then, like your real-life BFF, your therapist will respond to your questions and concerns via text quickly and thoroughly, as much as you want for $32/week. For those who prefer more traditional, real-time connections, the full package includes Skype-like video or audio sessions, so there’s something for everyone’s needs.
Therapy no longer gets in the way of everyday life; you can text your therapist before a date you’re anxious about, or set up a video session before your morning gym class. There’s no reason to lay in a chair while a stiff-looking old man purses his lips and jots down notes, like you’re being observed under a microscope. No! The future is efficient, discreet, and completely in your control. Uni students, this is for you if you’re homesick, overwhelmed with exams, or even stressed about money. It’s never been easier to get help for when life gets a bit, well, mental.
NOTE: Online therapy is not meant to be used in life-threatening situations. Call your local or national suicide prevention hotline or 999 in case of an emergency.