Advice Column, Health

Is seeking mental health support online better than face to face support?

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Covid-19 has changed the way we do things. It has simplified the aspect of staying home. Whether you need to get vegetables, fast food, host an important meeting or even get your child to catch up with school work, it can all be done from the comfort of your home. The pandemic has allowed us to stay home but still remain connected. 

It has even made it possible for patients seeking mental health assistance to get help from their home. From scheduling your medication to virtually speaking to your provider it is all possible for the patient’s benefit. 

There are also a number of support groups that have been made available to help people who are unable to cope with social distancing to the anxiety of contracting the virus. This new age of no longer needing to sit in a therapy chair and pour out your trouble has been received well by patients. 

Infact studies show that most people are very comfortable with the idea of not needing to leave their home to seek help. In the United States more than half of the patients say the pandemic has changed the way they speak to their doctor. And most of them have also said they would switch to a different provider if the current one did not offer telehealth appointments.

In South Africa this has also become the new way of seeking help. Many helplines have already been setup to assist people who need the mental health support online. 

But the real question is where does it leave real life support?

There are still a number of people that feel they are more comfortable seeking help in person.  This means that while many have adopted to the online portal there are still those who need face-to-face contact. 

Let us look at some of the benefits of online treatment versus face-to-face treatment. 

  • Online: Using this platform allows you to seek help without leaving your home. This means those that are dealing with issues of anxiety and agoraphobia would prefer this method of therapy. 
  • Face-to-face: This has been the way of treatment for a long time and for many this what they are familiar with. 
  • Online: A big advantage for people with physical disabilities as well as those that are located in remote areas. This way they can still be in contact with their health care provider regardless of where they are at the time. 
  • Face-to-face: Therapist are able to engage all senses. By having a patient physically in front of you in a session you are able to read their body language and reactions. It also helps patients take in the atmosphere and treatment. 
  • Online: This might be disrupted if you share an apartment or home with multiple people. One might not be able to find a quite space to engage with the therapist during the session. 
  • Face-to-face: A therapy session might be the only safe place for a patient. This means that they would only find comfort and escapism in the confines of the offices of this trusted person. For someone like this online would be a major adjustment. 

The differences might not mean that there needs to an adjustment in the way therapy is conducted. However, what it does open us up to is the possibility of having an alternative medium to seek help. 

This might have been practised on a small scale pre-covid, but now that the accessibility to mental health care is constant, there is a good chance more and more people would be on board to seek help. 

As we continue to accept this new way of living let us be open to these possibilities and encourage a living that is both holistic and convenient. 

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | 083 303 9159 | 

Email: admin@ichaftraining.co.za devan@ichaftraining.co.za | 

Website: www.ichaftraining.co.za |  www.devan-moonsamy.com

By Devan Moonsamy 

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