Updated: Jan 13
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional stress to everyone. How long has it been since you last hugged someone? When was the last time you met someone in person? What’s worse is that we don’t know when this will all end and when everything will go back to normal.
Unfortunately, these constant uncertainties are gradually building a toll on our mental health for all of us. Luckily, there are many mental wellness and mental health resources out there: you can use a meditation app, talk to a therapist, or sign up for Talklet’s waitlist (we’re launching soon, stay tuned!). Deciding which resource to use to help you depends on your current mental health state. For example, if you are experiencing depression or other serious mental health disorders, it is best for you to see a mental health professional.
There are many different types of mental health professionals and we want to ensure that you choose the best-suited professional to work with. There are several things to consider: the different types of mental health workers and their roles, the qualifications they need, the type of insurance they accept, whether they can relate with your experience, and whether you are comfortable with them.
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We’ve summarized the 6 main types of mental health professionals available for you (note this is not an exhaustive list):
1) Clinical Psychologist: A clinical psychologist with a PhD in Psychology can provide assessment and treatment to those who have mental disorders, including bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are not allowed to prescribe medication (some states will allow this) but they can administer psychotherapy and conduct research into the cause of these disorders. Clinical Psychologists must have supervised clinical practice and undergo certification.
2) Psychiatric Nurses (PSNs): Psychiatric nurses focus on psychiatric nursing. They help people with psychiatric conditions to overcome their issues and live a normal life. Some of the duties of these nurses include assessing and treating psychiatric conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and psychosis. They also assist people with disabilities such as autism and Aspergers.
3) Occupational Therapist: This type can help individuals or families to cope with an illness or disability. They are trained to assess the issue and recommend the right course of action to improve the situation. They also work with the individual or family to develop activities to help them get through the situation and learn new ways of doing things. They often recommend equipment, devices, communication aids, etc.
4) Marriage and Family Therapist: These therapists specialize in counseling those in a difficult relationship. The therapist will work with the couple or family to determine what is going on in their relationship and suggest ways to fix the problem. You may also work with the counselor to create a life-plan for the couple if one of them is experiencing a mental illness. Relationship therapists also work with couples in helping them create a supportive support network.
5) Licensed Clinical Social Worker: This type of psychologist helps patients with problems that involve interpersonal relationships. These psychologists work with individuals and families on a confidential basis to help them get through difficult situations. Many mental health professional programs require fieldwork or training before becoming licensed, and you must meet a certain number of educational requirements. If you feel you have what it takes to work in a mental health facility, then a graduate degree or certificate may be needed.
Where to find good mental health workers?
If you want to connect with therapists, there are several websites that can help you with your search. Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and ZocDoc are examples of these websites. While these websites don’t normally mention the price or process of the sessions, they provide you with the therapists’ contact information so you can check with them. Most of these websites enable you to filter the therapists according to their specialty, ethnicity, religious faith, gender, sexuality, type of insurance, amongst many other factors, This allows you to choose a therapist who you are more comfortable speaking with.
Rise of Telehealth
Due to COVID-19, therapists are able to work remotely which decreased the overhead costs but made the demand for therapy more than ever before. While we are not advocating for a specific tele-mental health entity, some examples of these services are BetterHelp and Talkspace. They provide a monthly subscription-based service which could be a preferred option for you. Their services include text-based, phone-based, and video-based therapy, depending on the subscription plan you have chosen. While these services are online, scientific research has consistently shown that online treatments such as online cognitive behavioral therapy are very effective and in some cases as effective as in-person treatment for many mental health issues. However, when using these tele-mental health services, it is important to make sure that your data is secured and none of your data used without your knowledge or consent.
What to do if in a mental health crisis
For each session with a therapist, there is an intake process that enables therapists to understand your background and situation better. In addition, the therapist can determine if you facing a mental health crsis or are in a life-threatening situation.
If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. It’s a free, 24-hour hotline. Your call will be routed to the crisis center near you. If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
The demand now on therapy is unprecedented. Expect longer wait times as mental health professionals are now always overbooked. If you don’t have a mental health disorder, you may want to seek alternatives to therapy to avoid these long waits and also enable those with more urgent matters to receive the help they need.
For those who aren’t facing serious mental health illnesses, Talklet is an alternative to therapy. Talklet’s listeners are graduate students studying to become social workers and have the skills to work with mild, short-term mental health issues such as stress. Our listeners relieve the immense pressure other mental health professionals have and allows them to help more people.
We will cover alternatives to therapy in another blog. Interested in learning more? Sign up to receive a notification on our latest blog articles.
By: Ragy Amin