The average American deals with a lot of stress in their lives. Most report feeling the physical effects of stress. Before the pandemic, Gallup had estimated as many as 55% of Americans experienced high levels of daily stress. A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation reports 4 in 10 American adults are experiencing added stress from COVID-19. That’s a major part of why online counseling services like Talkspace have become more important than ever.
The global pandemic has to lead to states locking down in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. Travel bans have stopped many professionals from being able to do their jobs and ruined vacation plans for thousands of Americans. Visiting loved ones is prohibited in most cases and higher levels of precaution are demanded in most workplaces in an effort to keep employees safe.
Regular places for relaxing or winding down are limited or closed. Even state parks and beaches have been closed in an attempt to deter visitors and reduce large group settings. Movie theaters, sporting events, entertainment venues, and gyms have been closed in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. Weddings and funerals have either been postponed or held in a much different, private manner that can add to feelings of isolation.
This isolation can cause trauma if support systems are lacking. Some experts report a lack of social support systems can cause greater psychological strain.
Talkspace states that coping skills can also mitigate the impact of increased frustration, stress, and difficulty. Negative and overwhelming thoughts can be left to turn into something more damaging if not addressed. This can lead to unhealthy coping skills, like overeating, increased alcohol, use of drugs, malnutrition, overspending, and more.
Stress alone can cause long-lasting effects with PTSD symptoms, but unhealthy coping skills can also lead to long-lasting problems that impact health, finances, and psychological states. These unhealthy coping skills are commonly turned to for comfort but can exacerbate the situation and create worsened feelings. This can become a vicious cycle as the person struggling to cope creates a worse situation, potentially leading to substance dependence, depression, or financial ruin.
This year, reports showed 19% of people spent beyond their means and 23% of Americans had overdue medical bills. Additional hardships faced by coronavirus are impacting the financial and mental health of Americans. Freedom Debt Relief published a study that reported 90% of respondents faced financial hits due to coronavirus and 41% said they were concerned about feeding themselves or their families. Many have outstanding balances on credit cards due to groceries, utilities, and mobile costs with nearly a third (32%) reporting lost income directly tied to COVID-19.
Financial strain is one of the leading causes of divorce and can place added stress to the concern about health, stability, and social deprivation. Americans need coping skills that are healthy to avoid worsening their situations amid the increasing panic from the coronavirus pandemic. What started as a difficult and unavoidable situation could snowball into something much larger and longer-lasting.
Talkspace looks to help improve coping skills and bridge the gap of lacking social support systems in the lives of Americans. Online therapies can be used to offer support with no-contact counseling sessions done via video chat or phone. Telehealth has been a tool considered for quite some time now, but the current pandemic has pushed it to one of the top solutions for working through mental strain and improving wellness.
Many at-risk adults need access to mental health services as they attempt to get through the difficulties of the pandemic. These adults should not be exposed to the virus because of increased risk factors that could lead to serious or deadly outcomes. In general, attempts to keep people home have also caused healthcare facilities and therapy offices to consider the nature of care. Most care deemed “nonessential” has been postponed—leaving a gap in the care system.
Non-essential therapy is still very much needed to help people cope with their stress and frustration. In many cases, a lack of therapy leads to a worsened situation and a downhill spiral. In an effort to bridge that gap and support struggling Americans, Talkspace has provided solutions for virtual therapy.
In the comfort of one’s own home, or from anywhere with an internet connection, you can text your therapist and they’ll reply twice per day, five days per week. A live video session with a counselor can also be scheduled and attended, in addition to sending voice and video messages. This leads to a new level of privacy and convenience that many patients appreciate—not even needing to physically visit an office. These virtual meetings are less expensive than traditional therapy sessions because of the reduced overhead and increased efficiency. There’s no commuting to a therapist’s office.
Patients need to have access to licensed professionals, and Talkspace provides that in a new way that offers even more flexibility. This does not need to be a replacement for in-office therapy. Talkspace notes, “We are not trying to replace in-office therapy…We created Talkspace so more people could benefit from therapy and overcome their day-to-day challenges in a stigma-free environment. With Talkspace, you can send a therapist text messages, audio messages, as well as picture and video messages in a private, text-based chat room. Talkspace stands out because of the affordability and convenience it provides.”
This ease of reaching an expert could help with problems that might need immediate attention at any given time. Anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and other common struggles may need a more agile response than in-office therapy can offer. Remote sessions are even more important for those who are in self-isolation or facing higher risk factors that keep them homebound. Even as things open up, Talkspace’s remote sessions may be viewed as a more flexible solution to therapy.
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So, in difficult situations, coping skills are taught to handle the immediate need for healthy responses to stress and trauma. Eventually, patients can turn to self-care that will help them avoid these problematic settings. In the case where self-care isn’t enough to avoid increased strain (like during a pandemic), coping skills may mitigate the effects of the situation.