Existing is expensive. The high cost of living forces many Americans to adhere to strict budgets to cover the bare necessities. “Luxury items,” such as mental health care, are additional costs many of us just can’t afford.
But existing is also challenging. And considering just how common mental health struggles are, therapy isn’t indulgent — it’s essential.
The Problem With Modern Mental Healthcare
Amazon merchant platform Jungle Scout’s 2021 Q1 Consumer Trends Report found that 56% of all American consumers live paycheck to paycheck. Ironically, this financial instability often leads to anxiety, depression and other mental and physical ailments.
It’s unsurprising that nearly one in five American adults live with a mental illness. And unfortunately, most Americans are doing just that — living with it.
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 11.8 million Americans had a need for mental health services that went unmet. Of those 11.8 million cases, 38% said they could not afford the cost of treatment. Thus, this perpetual cycle seems inescapable.
Even if someone did have the money to shell out for regular therapy sessions, more than 112 million Americans live in areas where mental health providers are scarce. The Commonwealth Fund estimates this mental health professional shortage will continue through 2025. And assuming a mental health care provider is actually in your immediate area, only 56% of psychiatrists accept commercial insurance. So, therapy might sound good, but for many, it’s just not a feasible option — until now.
The Future Of Therapy
Telehealth and telepsychology encompass a wide range of medical services provided over the phone, email, webcams and other adaptive or assistive equipment.
This form of healthcare existed long before COVID-19 forced us indoors and online, though some psychologists reported a 26-fold increase in telepsychology patients during the pandemic.
Online therapy and counseling offer many benefits for both patients and their doctors. Convenient online scheduling, private in-home sessions and accessibility in rural locations make telepsychology an appealing option for therapy newbies and veterans alike.
Happy Mind, Happy Body
But is therapy, online or otherwise, even worth it? Absolutely.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, people who receive psychotherapy experience symptom relief and are better able to function in their lives. And it’s not “all in their heads” either — brain imaging researchers found visible brain changes in people with depression, panic disorder, PTSD and other conditions who had undergone psychotherapy.
This is major, because a study done by Oxford University psychiatrists found that “many mental health diagnoses are associated with a drop in life expectancy as great as that associated with smoking 20 or more cigarettes a day.”
From bones to brains, each of our bodies’ systems interconnect. And the research speaks for itself: to care for one’s mental health is to care for the whole body.
A Better Option
You may be interested in seeking help at this point but aren’t quite sure where to start. That’s why we are here to suggest BetterHelp.
BetterHelp was founded in 2013 by Alon Matas. Matas had become so stressed from running a different startup that he began to seek mental health services, according to business network Vator in 2019.
“It got to a point where I thought professional counseling could be useful to me, not from a professional point of view, but a personal point of view,” Matas said.
After experiencing first-hand the rampant inaccessibility to mental health providers in America, Matas was determined to find a solution. That solution was the creation of BetterHelp.
Since then, BetterHelp has blossomed into the world’s largest e-counseling platform. The online mental health provider offers access to licensed, trained, experienced and accredited psychologists (PhD/PsyD), marriage and family therapists (LMFT), clinical social workers (LCSW/LMSW) and board licensed professional counselors (LPC). All BetterHelp counselors also possess at least three years and 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. In addition, men, women, POC and other minorities are represented in BetterHelp’s diverse roster of thousands of mental healthcare professionals.
How BetterHelp Works
Signing up for BetterHelp counseling is easy. To get started, follow the prompts for a questionnaire about basic ID information, key health problems you’d like to focus on and any counselor preferences you may have.
The questionnaire is extensive to ensure the most accurate mental health report — and, in turn, the best counselor match — possible. You can choose from a wide range of mental health topics to discuss, from “least important” to “most important.” If your concerns aren’t already listed, there is space to provide a more detailed description of what you’re looking for.
You can also request a counselor of a specific gender, race or religion. Once you’ve submitted your questionnaire, the counselor matchmaking process begins. This process can take a few hours or a few days, depending on availability, and is completely free.
Once matched, you can either opt to begin payments or request a different counselor. Then, counseling sessions may begin via text, live chat, phone call or video chat. BetterHelp patients can use all forms of communication interchangeably depending on their needs and convenience.
Comparing Price To Reward
I know what you’re thinking — okay, sounds great, but how much does it cost? As a penny-pincher myself, this was my first question when approaching BetterHelp’s online counseling services.
BetterHelp counseling costs range from $60 to $80 per week, billed every four weeks. These prices fall on the cheaper end of the spectrum, according to GoodTherapy, which approximates that most Americans pay around $100 to $200 per session.
Furthermore, you can rest assured you’re getting the most bang for your buck. A 2019 study conducted by the University of California found that “users of BetterHelp experienced significantly reduced depression symptom severity after engaging with the platform.”
A substantial literature base on telehealth interventions also strengthens this data, showing teletherapy to be just as effective as in-person counseling.
Racking Up The Savings
BetterHelp is not only priced relatively lower than most mental healthcare providers in America, but this online counseling service is also teeming with hidden savings, benefits and value.
In addition to its low counseling costs, BetterHelp saves you money on transportation to and from a therapist’s office and expenses associated with leaving the house, like babysitters or having to skip a shift at work.
And remember that positive correlation between mental and physical health? Choosing to invest in your mental health at an affordable rate now has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in medical bills down the road.
Moreover, BetterHelp’s dedication to optimizing counselor-patient compatibility is invaluable when considering the widespread disparities in mental health services across racial and ethnic divides.
Finally, the online counseling sessions are entirely confidential. The session records are encrypted and scrambled, and nothing discussed with a BetterHelp counselor is shared with or made accessible to any insurance companies.
A hassle-free, private, understanding counselor is worth their weight in gold. Fortunately, all BetterHelp is asking for is about $70 a week, or $10 a day, a.k.a. your daily Starbucks run.
End The Stigma And Start Your Better Life
The stigmatization of mental health stretches back thousands of years. But luckily, organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and countless others are working hard to dissolve these long-held stereotypes and judgments.
And while fixing a millennia-long, global mental health disinformation campaign shouldn’t fall on one individual, recognizing your internal stigmas about mental health is an excellent place to start.
Mental health care is for everyone. It is not limited to the wealthy, patients with severe disorders or any particular religion, race or gender.
If you’re a living, breathing human, you deserve therapy and could benefit from it, and BetterHelp is here to get you started.