Mental health services are in huge demand this year, mental health is being impacted all around the world due to the pandemic, but many services are unable to operate as normal. The public is having to find new ways to get professional help and terms around the subject are rising in search engines. Alongside this, many are seeking advice on how to become a therapist as redundancies and lack of income are causing people to think of a career change that will guarantee income, no matter how long the pandemic continues.
The public has been forced to become more creative when it comes to daily living and mental wellbeing is no different. An investigation carried out by RTT has revealed findings into this, which we discuss below.
Why Is Mental Health Being Impacted So Drastically?
COVID-19 has left all of us feeling uncertain about the future, whether this is down to physical health of loved ones or ourself, careers and job prospects and education. Humans naturally want to feel in control of their lives and COVID-19 has removed that from many elements of our daily living.
Despite vaccines being rolled out, there is still no clear end date to when we can return to ‘normal’ and this is causing stress, anxiety and even depression in high numbers.
Record numbers of redundancies is leading to financial insecurity around the world and money troubles regularly lead to mental health issues. Concerns over pay for essential items, while making sure rent and bills are paid is causing many to have a mental illness.
The Apps People Are Turning To
Mental health apps have been around for years and come recommended by many. However, 2020 has seen a surge in the number of people downloading and using these.
Headspace, Calm and Better Help have been the most popular apps during this time, search interest has risen by almost 100% compared to January of 2020. Considering many people feel their worst at the beginning of the year after the festive season and are usually the most popular months for these apps, this is a huge jump in demand.
Reviews on these apps have also jumped, with Headspace receiving over 6000 in the first 8 months of this year. Many of these reviews showed specifics as to why people were using them and the most common theme was mental anguish due to COVID-19.
A feeling of being more centred and practising mental wellbeing exercises to provide relief but also a sense of routine were the most prevalent reasons for the app being downloaded and the majority of users portrayed a positive view from their own experiences of using them.
There were also correlations between certain events this year that caused a spike in downloads and searches. The obvious announcement of the pandemic saw all three of these apps have more searches but other events, such as the US leaving the global health collective, Black Lives Matter protests and the killing of George Floyd, the mass loss of health insurance and the USA announcing a lead in worldwide cases all saw intertest rise.
Are Apps The Answer?
While these apps can provide some great guidance in the short-term or help those with minor issues, such as a stressful day, those with mental health issues, diagnosed or otherwise, should not see mental health apps as an alternative to traditional therapy.
Therapists go through years of training and exams to be able to properly understand many forms of mental health conditions and most take further courses to specialise in certain areas of therapy. This way, they can tailor a session and programme to each individual to find the best ways for them to understand their condition and cope with it.
“Our work as psychologists is to help people look at their minds. There are so many mental health apps out there, but they have a short-term effect if people don’t look at their minds and their ingrained beliefs.”- Yasmine Saad, Ph.D. (Psychiatrist).
Therapists do understand that mental health apps can be valuable in many aspects and often recommend them alongside therapy sessions, especially for those who need more frequent visits to their therapists but are unable to do so for whatever reason, mental health apps are a good ‘in-between’ activity.
Online therapy is now the most popular route for mental health sessions. Not only is this ensuring the safety of all parties by connecting via video calling apps, but it also means that patients are no longer bound to providers in their area, they can see any professional in the world, so they can always get the best treatment they need.
If anyone is suffering with their mental health, from depression, anxiety and PTSD to other disorders such as eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder etc, they should seek professional help as soon as possible, even if symptoms seem mild. The sooner a professional can intervene the better.