It is a given that the United States lacks mental health services in most communities. There are numerous reasons why, but funding (or the lack thereof) is huge. Perhaps it would be wise to investigate the benefits of providing online mental health counseling to alleviate some of the shortages we now face, many of which are due to budgetary cuts. If your community doesn’t have the facilities to house a mental health center, perhaps you could encourage a graduate with a certificate in mental health counseling to function in the capacity of an online provider.
While some mental illnesses would be too severe to treat online, the majority of issues our communities now face could be counseled online. Whether you have a physical location or are thinking of dealing strictly with online consumers, here are four benefits of offering an online platform.
1. Access in Rural Locations
Many remote and rural communities simply don’t have the resources, or the need, to establish a mental health facility. By giving access to online counseling, those few people in need of mental health services could get the counseling they need without traveling many miles to a larger town or city.
2. Easily Accessible for the Physically Impaired
Many times, those people in need of mental health services simply can’t get out to visit a community mental health facility. Although it is now mandatory that public places make accommodations for those with physical limitations such as wheel chair ramps, it isn’t always easy for those people to get into and out of a vehicle to travel to and from counseling. Online therapy could be the difference between getting the counseling they need and not getting any services whatsoever.
3. Affordability and Convenience
Then there is the fact that online counseling wouldn’t need to pay for a physical location. No buildings need to be bought and rents would be nonexistent or much cheaper. If you are receiving patients, you would need a facility with several rooms. Online mental health counseling could take place from a single desk, even at the counselor’s home, which would cut costs. This translates to a huge savings for patients.
4. Access to Greater Resources
Then there is the fact that a patient is being counseled online already, so why not make use of the internet to lead them to resources that will help them with their specific diagnosis? There are groups which meet online, and these can be forums or video chat rooms led by peers and/or counselors. These counselors can then give their patients links to various sites where they can read information that could help them deal with their issues as well.
There is no denying the fact that this nation has a great need for mental health programs in literally every area of the country. Why not offer online mental health counseling as an alternative to a physical location? It would make counseling available to a greater number of people than ever before and many people reluctant to meet face-to-face with a mental health professional would have no qualms about online counseling. Don’t you think this would be a great way to face the shortages we now face in mental health services for our under-served communities?
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Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Moreover, views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Awareness Junkie or its staff.