Explore Online Counselling for Mental Health

Online Counselling for Mental Health

Introduction 

Humankind has been facing issues related to their health ever since the world came into existence. Similarly, a neglected but very much present issue, mental health and illnesses, has been prevalent in all world societies, regardless of age, gender, race, etc. A person might be dealing with a lot of issues internally. A problem like overthinking, which is more common than you think, can cause severe anxiety over time.  

In our rapidly changing and digitally interconnected world, online counselling for mental health is quickly becoming a pivotal aspect of healthcare. As we face global pandemics, economic uncertainty, and social isolation, the necessity for remote mental health support is more apparent than ever before.  

With the right kind of support and timely help, hundreds have been helped without considering the geographical boundaries. This article explores online counselling for mental health, its benefits, methodologies, and impact based on research and clinical studies. 

What is Online Counselling? 

Online counselling, also known as e-therapy or teletherapy, refers to mental health services provided through internet platforms. A person with a mental health issue will book an appointment with a licensed practitioner, like booking an appointment to the physical clinic.  

Like any branch of medical science, new ways of treating mental illnesses are being researched continuously. Currently, many methods are undertaken to treat and help with counselling online. The methods include video conferencing, voice calls, email, and chat systems. Clients can interact with licensed therapists from the comfort of their own homes or other private spaces. It is a plus point for both ends.  

Benefits of Online Counselling 

  1. Accessibility 
  • Geographical Reach: Unlike physical clinical practices, an online counselling session does not require either of the parties to be present at any one location. They can be anywhere in the world and still book an appointment and get counselling or give counselling sessions. Anyone with an internet connection can access counselling services, removing location barriers. 
  • Availability: The counsellor can be available at flexible times. It is not necessarily limited to a certain time or day of the week. Some consultants are okay with practising even on holidays or weekends, given that the session is prebooked and has a limited time slot—greater flexibility in scheduling appointments, often including weekends and evenings.  
  1. Affordability 
  • Lower Costs: Online counselling often costs less than traditional face-to-face therapy. This is because the resources are optional, like any physical location, cutting costs greatly.  
  • Insurance Coverage: Many insurance companies now cover online therapy sessions. As per the demand during the Pandemic, more and more people started seeking help on online platforms, and insurance companies started offering insurance on online treatments, including online counselling for mental health. 
  1. Privacy and Anonymity 
  • Confidentiality: Being online does not mean you have to show your face all the time; you can be on a voice call and talk to your consultant during your online counselling sessions. This ensures that the person’s profile and personal details are kept confidential. Encryption and secure platforms protect privacy. 
  • Comfort: Anonymity can make individuals more comfortable in sharing personal information. A big reason for people not seeking professional help even till the last decade was fear of identification and being judged. This fear has gone down largely as anonymity can be maintained during online counselling for mental health.  
  1. Specialized Care 
  • Tailored Therapy: Online counsellors and therapists can specialise in various issues, providing targeted support for unique mental health needs. They are certified professionals who seek degrees and certifications from a government-associated board to practice and give counselling sessions. These counsellors and therapists have the capability and training to provide customised or individually targeted help for mental illness or issues.  

Considerations and Challenges 

Online counselling for mental health is not a bed of roses; due to being in an establishing phase, this facility has some cons and shortcomings.  

  1. Technology Limitations 
  • Connectivity Issues: Technical difficulties can disrupt sessions. Not all parts of the world, including Britain, have excellent internet facilities. There are chances of disruptions during a session or connectivity issues due to an internet connection.  
  • Equipment Requirements: Clients must have access to a computer or smartphone with a stable internet connection. Some clients, like aged people who are not tech savvy, may face an issue with being able to use a computer or a smartphone to be online and attend their online counselling session for mental health.  
  1. Therapeutic Relationship 
  • Building Rapport: Many people cannot trust an online person they have never met or do not know personally. It is not new that people even don’t trust online sellers, so this is a huge issue for some. They want to be acquainted or at least be able to know some basic details about the online counsellor treating them. Even then, they might not feel confident enough to confide their issues. Therefore, connecting with the therapist can be more challenging online. 
  1. Security Concerns 
  • Data Privacy: Like confidentiality, it is equally important to keep the data of the client or patient secure in files and to keep those files locked with security in your database. Selecting platforms with robust security measures is essential to protect personal information. This makes the data secure and makes the counselling clinic credible in the eyes of the clients and even their families.  

Studies and Research Findings 

A wealth of research supports the effectiveness of online counselling: 

  • Effectiveness: Studies show that online therapy can be as effective as traditional therapy for many mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. The effectiveness greatly depends on the consistency of sessions and the counsellor’s knowledge. Online counselling for mental health is a sensitive subject, demanding great care and expertise.  
  • Satisfaction: Research indicates high satisfaction rates among clients receiving online therapy. Many factors contribute to the satisfaction. Most factors are the benefits of online counselling sessions, like being able to remain anonymous, no geographical boundaries, etc. A client does not feel trapped or judged.  
  • COVID-19 Response: The global pandemic accelerated the adoption of online therapy; it was the case in most systems running normal daily life, including education and health requirements. Online counselling for mental health has also demonstrated resilience and adaptability in crises, as many patients took sessions online to combat their anxiety and depression while isolated. The counsellors served like a long-distance friend who was there at the time of need.  

Ethical Considerations 

  • Licensing and Regulation: Therapists must comply with licensing laws, which may vary by jurisdiction. BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) is one of the most prestigious licenses that a counsellor can attain.  
  • Informed Consent: The counsellor and the online counselling clinic are responsible for ensuring that the clients understand online therapy’s nature, risks, and benefits. They must be on the same page regarding privacy and confidentiality.  
  • Crisis Intervention: As it is online counselling for mental health, therapists must have a plan for managing emergencies and crises remotely. There can be an emergency, and being in different geographical locations may take a lot of work to handle the situation. Still, the counsellor must have backup plans or be in a link with a local counsellor near his client’s vicinity. 

Types of Mental Illness and Disorders 

Mental health issues, or mental disorders, encompass many problems that affect mood, thinking, and behaviour. Each illness must be treated differently, with so many variations and severities. The person treating the illness should be well-trained and certified.   

The illness or disorder can be chronic and significantly impact daily living and overall well-being. Below are some common types of mental health issues: 

  1. Anxiety Disorders
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This is very common and often goes unnoticed, labelling GAD as a person’s trait or habit. Excessive, persistent worrying about everyday things. This leads to other disorders. 
  • Panic Disorder: Panic is usually a step two after anxiety disorder. This affects the daily routine life of the person and even those around them. The person can have a panic attack anywhere, even due to slight stress. Recurrent panic attacks often come without warning. 
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Most confuse this disorder with being an introvert. A person who fears meeting anyone or even going to a public place has social anxiety disorder. Intense fear of social interactions leads to avoidance of social situations. This disorder negatively impacts the person’s personal and professional life as the person cannot meet his peers and prospective employers confidently.  
  1. Mood Disorders
  • Depression: Another very common mental health issue that can be resolved through online counselling for mental health. Persistent sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in daily activities. 
  • Bipolar Disorder: It is a dangerous and unforgiving disorder. A person with bipolar disorder is characterised by their traits of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs. They are dangerous even for those around them. They can be emotionally abusive towards their partners.  
  1. Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): OCD is in many forms, and there are persistent, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Cleaning your room until the cleaning is done the way the OCD patients want it done, they won’t be able to relax or let it go from their minds; they will just keep thinking about it. 
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Like most mental illnesses, it does not have anything to do with the patient’s physical appearance. They have an excessive preoccupation with perceived flaws in physical appearance. They just want to find flaws and negative things in their bodies or others. 
  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • It develops after exposure to a traumatic event and may include flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety. Within this category, there is also post-partum depression. This happens to women who have recently given birth and have depressive thoughts. They cannot feel the joy of their baby coming into the world; rather, they feel sad and demotivated about themselves and their life.  
  1. Personality Disorders
  • Borderline Personality Disorder: It has instability in moods, behaviour, self-image, and functioning. These people are unsure of their self and their capability to do anything.  
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder: Just the opposite of borderline personality disorder, this disorder has a pattern of disregard for the rights of others. They do not give another person their due space and even respect. 
  1. Eating Disorders
  • Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia is an intense fear of gaining weight, leading to severe restriction of food intake. This disorder leads to malnutrition and underweight patients.  
  • Bulimia Nervosa: It is regular episodes of overeating followed by purging behaviours. People with bulimia are often overweight and on the lookout for fad diets to shed weight without making any effort.  
  1. Schizophrenia and Other Psychotic Disorders 
  • Distorted thinking, hallucinations, and a disconnection from reality characterise it. People with schizophrenia don’t know reality from their thoughts; staying in the present is difficult. 
  1. Neurodevelopmental Disorders
  • Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition with attention difficulty, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness. People with ADHD need full-time care and monitoring so they don’t hurt anyone around them or themselves.  
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): This is a lifelong disorder; it is a developmental disorder affecting communication and behaviour. 
  1. Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
  • These people are often hard to treat as their addiction turns into dependence on substances like alcohol, drugs, or nicotine. They do not feel happy without these substances; rather, they like the misery and aftereffects of having a hard substance. 

Conclusion 

Online counselling for mental health has carved a significant place in the contemporary therapeutic landscape. Through research and development, it has proven to be a viable and beneficial mode of therapy that aligns with modern life’s challenges and conveniences. 

Integrating online counselling into mainstream mental healthcare provides hope, flexibility, and access to those who may have previously found therapy inaccessible or intimidating. As technology continues to evolve, so will the reach and impact of online counselling for mental health. 

Online clinics are becoming more common and holding their credibility high to ensure people trust them. It is a high-risk decision for people already struggling with mental health, but it is the future of treating many more illnesses.  

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