If you or a loved one suffer from suicidal thoughts, please visit suicideprevention.ca to find a local number in Canada. Outside Canada, here's a list of international suicide hotlines in 35 countries, and the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
'Tis the season for stress
The days are getting shorter. The fast-approaching holiday season may have you worried about finances, or anxious about spending time with certain family members, or just feeling kind of lonely. Seasonal Affective Disorder (a mood disorder where people normally unaffected by their mental health show depressive symptoms every year around the same time, often in winter) is also taking its hold, while some of us have been struggling with our mental health in silence for too long.
Whatever you are going through, it's important to take care of your mental health. Therapy is known to be extremely beneficial, but unfortunately, it can get pretty expensive. And in today's high-tech, fast-paced world, consistently attending weekly appointments in somebody's office can be inconvenient at best, impossible to manage at worst.
Enter online therapy
Therapy alternatives online are generally much cheaper than traditional in-person therapy, and certainly far more convenient. There are talk and text plans, text only plans, plans where you can seek help from licensed pros through scheduled video chats, and free options where you can just talk to an anonymous stranger, someone who has been where you are and wants to offer their support and listen to you. Whatever type of help you're looking for, chances are, there is a platform or website out there that will suit your budget, time constraints, and therapy needs.
So what are the cons?
With all the benefits, there will obviously be a few drawbacks. Some that I read about with the text-only plans included loss of non-verbal communication and a lack of an in-person relationship. Also, these alternatives are better if you need a "mental health boost," not if you have a severe mental illness like borderline personality disorder, addiction, etc. In these cases, the in-person route is definitely the way to go. And if you currently feel or have been known to feel suicidal, seek more immediate help elsewhere, please.
Remember that I care about you, I think you are worthy of kindness and respect, and I believe you can get the help you need to get better. I certainly have.
Without further ado, here are 5 possible online alternatives to traditional in-person therapy.
Talkspace is a website and app that virtually connects you with a licensed therapist. You begin by chatting with a therapist to identify your therapy needs, and based on your results, you're matched up with a long-term therapist. Choose a payment plan that suits your budget, and you can start messaging your primary therapist anytime, anywhere. Therapists respond about 1-2 times per day, and if you need more, you can schedule a video chat.
2. 7 Cups of Tea
7 Cups of Tea is an online service and an app that allows you to immediately and anonymously connect with a trained, caring and compassionate "active listener" for free. You also have the option to pay to work with a licensed professional. With 7 Cups, you can find your listener "based on life experience or affiliation," and those interested in helping others can become a listener by completing an online training course.
With BetterHelp, you begin by answering a few questions and are then matched with your professional counsellor within 24 hours. You can message your therapist anytime from anywhere and/or schedule a live session either on the phone or through a video conference at a time that's convenient for you. All methods are included in the price of your membership at no additional cost.
Ginger.io is an app that offers plans based on your individual needs. You can chat with emotional-health coaches, or have live video sessions with licensed therapists or psychiatrists, depending on which plan you sign up for. With Giner.io, your progress is regularly monitored to make sure you're getting the most of your membership plan.
iPrevail is an app that begins by asking you a few questions about your behaviour, thoughts and feelings. Based on your assessment results, you'll receive a program tailored to your needs. Chatting with trained peer coaches, anonymous users who have experienced issues of their own, is free, and paid subscriptions are available for those who want to speak with a licensed professional.
This is not a sponsored post, nor is it by any means an extensive list. These are just a few of the companies I found in my own search for affordable therapy, and just some basic info on each. There are plenty more alternatives if none of these suit your needs!
***If you or a loved one suffer from suicidal thoughts, visit suicideprevention.ca to find a local number in Canada. Outside Canada, here's a list of international suicide hotlines in 35 countries, and the International Association for Suicide Prevention.***