There are two competing realities when it comes to technology and mental health.
First, the need for quality mental health treatment has exploded in recent years. Even before the pandemic, the U.S. consistently saw rising rates of a wide array of mental health struggles, from substance use disorder to conditions that often cause it, such as depression, anxiety, trauma and more.
The second reality is that as the urgency for mental health treatment has increased, people still have a hard time accessing it or arranging their lives to fully engage with it even when they can find it. There are a variety of obstacles that stand in the way of quality in-person care, including but not limited to scheduling conflicts, lack of available therapists, financial challenges, stigma and more.
In the wake of these enduring logistical and personal challenges, virtual treatment has emerged as an increasingly viable form of care. Virtual treatment brings quality and compassionate intervention to patients struggling with an expansive range of mental health issues from the comfort, safety and privacy of their home, office or wherever they happen to be.
Despite its increasing popularity, there remains a considerable amount of resistance to virtual care and a false perception that it represents a lower tier of treatment than its in-person counterpart. However, the reality is that virtual treatment can be just as effective as in-person care and even have some specific advantages, such as:
Imagine being in Denver and finding out that one of the world’s foremost specialists in your specific condition is in Los Angeles. In the past, geography created a seemingly insurmountable barrier to this problem and often forced patients to settle for lesser-quality care. Virtual treatment drastically expands your potential network of care providers and creates more of an opportunity for you to engage with the right clinician, no matter where you are in the country.
A common barrier to prioritizing mental health treatment is the belief that it will interfere with other aspects of life (family, work, school, relationships, etc.). The irony is that you can’t be fully present in these areas if your mental health is suffering. Virtual treatment allows you to be present in all aspects of your life while taking the time to make sure you’re taking proper care of yourself.
The stigma and shame that often comes with seeking mental health treatment can be a barrier to fully engaging with it. Virtual treatment allows you to get the help you need in safety, comfort and privacy without anyone having to know what you’re going through. It provides a discreet and familiar environment that allows you to “let your guard down” in a healthy way so you can fully embrace the treatment process.
Virtual treatment has evolved well beyond talk therapy and can be applied to other modalities that have long been reserved for in-person engagement, such as medication-assisted treatment. Telehealth appointments with doctors for medical issues can be part of the virtual treatment paradigm. There are also more and more specific therapies being deployed online, such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and motivational interviewing.
Each person must make the decision as to what kind of care they receive; however, virtual treatment may be more of an option for you than you realize. It’s covered by most insurance companies, provides a flexible care schedule and allows you to work around your life.
Recovery Unplugged has seen first-hand the benefits of virtual treatment for our patients on their recovery and quality of life. If you or someone you care about is battling substance abuse or mental health issues, virtual treatment can help you eliminate the obstacles that often get in the way of care.
About the Author
Dominic Nicosia is a New Jersey-based journalist and content writer covering addiction care and mental health. He currently serves as Senior Content Writer for Recovery Unplugged Treatment Centers, a national addiction treatment organization that offers a full continuum of care and uses music to help people more readily embrace the treatment process.