It may sound surprising, but mental health disorders are quite common in the U.S. Millions of adults have a mental health disorder, but the numbers vary by demographic group.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimated that in 2014, mental illness affected 43.6 million adults in the U.S. Put another way, 18.1 percent of all U.S. adults reported dealing with some sort of mental illness. And these figures do not include substance use disorders such as drug or alcohol abuse.
Some 21.8 percent of women deal with mental health issues, compared to 14.1 percent of men. Mental illnesses are also more common among younger people. Roughly 20 percent of people aged 18–49 have a mental health problem, compared to 15.4 percent of those 50 and older. It’s clear that mental health is an important issue for many in the U.S.
But it’s not always easy to find a therapist.
Everyone deserves access to mental healthcare, but it can be a problem of access. Some people live in more remote areas, limiting their access to proper care. Also, they simply may not be able to afford regular visits to a therapist, as healthcare costs have surged recently in the U.S.
Luckily, technology is making mental health care services more accessible to those who need it. Healthcare providers are adopting new technology like cloud storage to track and organize loads of client data. This is making online and remote therapy possible. Several apps and web resources play a support role today.
If you feel you need professional mental healthcare and have access to a therapist, take advantage of that. However, if your counseling options are limited or you can’t afford regular, in-person visits, here are eight apps and web resources to consider.
Talkspace is a platform that delivers an affordable way to deal with depression, stress, anxiety, and other disorders. The service connects users with a licensed therapist for private text, audio, or video chat therapy.
The costs are reasonable, particularly if you use the service on a regular basis. One month of unlimited messaging therapy costs $128 (or $32 per week). An additional live session brings the total to $172, while four live sessions plus the unlimited messaging costs $276 monthly.
The service also offers couples therapy for $189 per month or $499 per quarter (12 weeks).
If you’re on a tight budget, Talkspace may not be the best option for you. However, compared to traditional, offline therapy, the prices Talkspace offers are extremely reasonable, especially if your healthcare plan has a high deductible or wouldn’t cover visits to a therapist clause.
The Breakthrough service follows a simple four-step process:
- The platform allows users to find a therapist or psychiatrist based on variables such as location, provider type, and specialty.
- Users can then message therapists to see if they meet their needs.
- Book an appointment through the platform’s online calendar. Appointments typically run between 15 minutes and one hour.
- The user and therapist connect for an online session.
Cost varies by therapist, but users can view the pricing information while browsing. The service covers most major insurance plans, even allowing users to browse therapists by insurance coverage.
Download — Breakthrough for iOS [No longer available] | Android (Free with additional costs per session)
The Operation Reach Out app aims to prevent suicide among military personnel and veterans.
Developed by a team of suicide prevention experts, this free service encourages people to reach out for help whenever they’re having suicidal thoughts.
The app is also helpful for those concerned about friends or family members. It includes a personal contact help center, as well as activities to help those who are depressed stay connected with others.
Theravive is a free online service. The main difference with the others here is it works via your web browser rather than through an app.
While using Theravive is free, the services of the professionals you find on the site are not. Thankfully, each therapist, psychologist or counselor lists their prices in their profile on the site, so you’ll have an accurate idea of that professional’s pricing model before you contact them.
The website is all about connecting you with someone who can help. Think of it as a network of licensed professional counselors, therapists, and psychologists, all available through your computer.
The site’s search function allows users to browse available therapists by city and state. There are also listings for counselors open to taking part in online or phone therapy sessions. In addition, the site lists workshops, seminars, and other events by geographic location.
Also included are many articles and news stories related to various aspects of mental health, useful for if you’re just looking for information.
While the other resources on this list provide direct access to therapists and counselors, the Counseling Resource website allows visitors to take psychological quizzes and self-tests, read about various forms of mental illness, and compare the different types of counseling and therapy available.
If you’re still on the fence about contacting a therapist, this could be a good place to start. The site also offers tips on how to find live online counseling using a secure chat with a professional healthcare provider.
Counseling Resource also offers a free online service called Ask the Psychologist, which publishes replies to a select number of the numerous questions it receives each day. It also offers a list of online resources offered by third parties, covering the many aspects of mental health.
BetterHelp is a service that matches users with counselors that can help with all sorts of issues, including depression, addiction, stress, anxiety, relationships, grief, self-esteem, and more.
Like some other services on this list, BetterHelp is a network of independent providers that connect using the platform.
One of the best things about BetterHelp is it’s relatively low-risk. The service offers a free one-week trial, during which users can sign up, match with a therapist, then start working with them.
From there the service offers various pricing plans, starting at $35 per week.
7. 7 Cups
The 7 Cups service describes itself as a free, anonymous, and confidential online text chat with trained therapists and counselors. It must be doing something right: it’s helped more than 6 million people through nearly 13 million conversations.
The service offers a few pricing plans. The longer you subscribe, the less expensive it will be. For example, the standard one-month subscription costs $12.95. However, that drops to $7.99 per month for a full-year subscription or $6.24 per month with a two-year subscription.
Users can also subscribe for life for $419.95.
Subscriptions include access to the service’s network of healthcare professionals, but there is much more included. There are series on various topics, such as life skills, relationships, and mind over mood. Also offered are single-shot sessions dealing with subjects such as bullying, ADHD management, and forgiveness.
The iPrevail service connects users with “Trained Peer Specialists” for online counseling. The peers may or may not be professional mental healthcare providers, but they do have experience in the field of counseling over the web.
This free site also offers a baseline health assessment test. The results help tailor online therapy programs for each individual user.
When selecting a peer to chat with online, the site automatically lets you know the estimated wait time for each available person (about 10 minutes when I visited). There are options to leave offline message for peers who aren’t at their computers.
You can also read a little bit about each peer before you talk to him or her, including what topics that person specializes in and who they are outside of the site. For example, you can read that the person has experience talking about anxiety, depression, parenting issues, etc. and is a mother and graduate student.
If you want to step light while starting off with therapy, iPrevail might be a good fit for you.
Is It Time You Talked to a Professional?
If you have the access and means to professional one-on-one mental health care, that’s is the best option.
However, you might not have the money to pay for traditional therapy or you don’t live near a licensed therapist. Take solace in knowing there are plenty of affordable online options available to get you the professional help you need.
At the very least, these resources can be a great starting point for someone new to mental health treatment and could encourage you to seek more traditional means of counseling once you’re better positioned to do so.
Does online therapy appeal to you? Tell us why or share your experiences using one of these apps in the comments section below.
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