Seeking Virtual Mental Health Care

45% of adults say that the pandemic has affected their mental health.

The pandemic has created a paradox in our mental health care. At this time when we are in more need of support for anxiety and depression, the resources that provide it are harder to access in person.

Should I consider starting therapy now, especially if I can’t go in person?

You might not have previously felt the need for mental health services, but can now be struggling on how to deal with the increased anxiety, uncertainty, and isolation due to the pandemic. Searching for a health provider, especially a mental health one, can be daunting. Surprisingly, now is actually a good time to find low-threshold access to care.

You can avoid the trek from office to office, find lower copays, and expand your search for licensed clinicians beyond just your state. Therapy is more available than ever, and at potentially better prices.

What about cost – what if I don’t have insurance?

It’s crucial to understand how you will pay for therapy. Consider looking into Federally Qualified Health Centers – community-based centers that offer mental health and substance use services. They are required to prioritize individuals living within their areas of service, so be sure to look into those within your neighborhood.

Many health centers are authorized and encouraged to provide Telehealth services right now.

What about cost – what if I do have insurance?

With private health insurance, many providers are currently waiving copays for Telehealth visits. Some states like California and Arizona are ordering companies to cover Telehealth services.

Be sure to do a deep dive of your insurance benefits and policies. It’s important to understand how much your deductible is (if you have a high deductible plan), how to file claims if a therapist is out of network, and how much your plan covers for mental health services.

Many therapists offer a sliding scale fee for sessions, depending on your level of income. You can bring this up during the initial phone consultation if financials are an issue.

How do I go about finding a therapist I like?

If you have insurance, you can use your insurance member portal to find covered practitioners. If that doesn’t apply to you, you can use other reputable online sources such as Teladoc, Amwell, MDLIve, or Doctor on Demand.

Therapy Brands has a directory searchable by region and speciality, and Psychology Today has a directory for of therapists for price comparisons. Using a mix of multiple sources can help in your research on potential practitioners.

You can also use online therapist matching sources if you prefer receiving recommendations based on your form responses. Some resources are Advekit, My Wellbeing, and Inclusive Therapists.

What should I expect with virtual therapy?

Expect some awkwardness at first
No matter what channel, online therapy will be a different experience from an in-person session. Don’t be agitated if it doesn’t feel like you and your therapist are instantaneously in syync.

Practice speaking your emotions directly
If you’ve been to in-person therapy, you may be used to your practitioner being able to observe your body language and facial expressions to pick up on your emotions. Without bodily cues, it can be more effective for you to start flexing these self-awareness muscles out loud in a safe space.

Anything else I should know in preparation?

Ask about free phone consultations
Most therapists offer a free 15 minute phone call before a session. This is a great time not only for you to express why you’re seeking therapy, but also to understand their qualifications, therapy style, and costs.

Take time to find the right match
It may take sessions with different therapists to see what style of communication is most effective for you. Don’t be discouraged if the first person you meet with isn’t a match – it’s normal to see a few different people before finding a practitioner you connect with.


Sources

7 Tips for Making the Most of online Therapy During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Therapists and Patients Find Common Ground: Virus-Fueled Anxiety
How to find a therapist during the Covid-19 pandemic

Safety Planning for Suicide Prevention

Download Printable Black and White PDF of the Safety Plan Here


September is Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month

Though it is critical and life-saving to create individual safety plans in case you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts and ideation, it’s important to note that suicide prevention also includes more accessible health care, destigmatizing mental health, breaking cycles of trauma, and nurturing community care. 

Below, you’ll find a safety plan template for crisis recovery and suicide prevention. You can also download a PDF version here.

Safety Plan for Crisis Recovery

What are some warning signs and potential triggers (mood, behaviors, images, thoughts)?

What can bring me or the subject of this safety plan comfort without contacting another person (meditation, journaling, exercise, taking a walk)?

People to call and/or text for help, distraction, or comfort:

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Name: _____________________ Phone: _________________ Email: ___________________

Places I can go or think of that bring safety and comfort.

Safe Transportation Methods: 

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Person/Service Name: ________________________ Contact: _________________________

Professional Support to Contact During a Crisis: 

Community Worker: ____________________________________
Phone: __________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Therapist: ______________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Local Police: ____________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________

Local Hospital: _________________________________________
Phone: _________________________________________________
Email/Online Contact: __________________________________


24/7 Crisis Hotlines:

U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline (English & Spanish): 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Trans Lifeline: U.S: 877-565-8860 | CA: 877-330-6366
Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth: 1-866-488-7386

Crisis Textline (if you are uncomfortable or not in an environment to speak on the phone):
US & Canada: Text HOME to 741741
UK: Text 85258
Ireland: Text 50808

Lifeline Crisis Chat: 
http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org (available 24/7)

Center for the Asian Pacific Family, 24-Hour Multilingual Crisis Helpline:
1-800-339-3940
AASRA 24/7 Hotline (Based in Mumbai):
91-9820466726 (Languages :  English, Hindi.)

Warning Signs

There is no one single cause or sets of indicators. However, the following are commonly identified warning signs of suicide:

  • Talking about suicide (includes jokes and indirect remarks)
  • Finding ways to take ones own life, including stockpiling items
  • A change of day-to-day routine
  • Increased risk-behavior such as alcohol and drug use, walking alone at night, driving recklessly
  • Developing personality changes such as irritability, anxiousness, agitation
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Talking about being a burden to others

Every safety plan and road to recovery looks different, we encourage you to approach each situation and each person with empathy. If you suspect that someone is contemplating suicide, reach out, listen, maintain communication, and implement a safety plan that fits their needs. Do not be afraid to reach out to a mental health professional for further guidance.


Suicide Statistics

Content warning: The following information goes over data related to suicide and suicide attempts, and may be triggering to some readers. Should you choose to continue reading and find yourself in need of immediate help at any time, please refer to our Find Help page here. Thank you.

  • Based on CDC’s Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2018:
    • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
    • In 2018, 48,344 Americans died by suicide
    • In 2018, there were an estimated 1.4M suicide attempts
    • The highest U.S. age-adjusted suicide rate was among Whites (16.84 in 100,000) and the second highest rate was among American Indians and Alaska Natives (14.12). Rates for Black or African Americans was 7.03, and for Asians and Pacific Islanders, it was 7.16. 1
  • 90% of those who died by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition at the time of their death. 2

Statistics in BIPOC Communities:

Indigenous/ Alaska Native Community

  • For American Indian and Alaska Native populations, the age-adjusted suicide death rate increased from 15.4 per 100,000 in 2009 to 22.1 per 100,000 in 2018.​3
  • American-Indian/Alaskan Native women aged 15-24 have the highest suicide rate compared to all racial/ethnic groups.4
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for American Indian/Alaska Natives between the ages of 10 and 34.5

Black, African American Community

  • Among children age 5-11, black children had the highest rate of death by suicide. (Between 1993-1997 and 2008-2012, it increased from 1.36 to 2.54 per 1 million, compared to 1.18 to 1.09 per 1 million among all children). 6
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for African Americans, ages 15 to 24.7
  • The death rate from suicide for African American men was more than four times greater than for African American women, in 2017.
  • African American females, grades 9-12, were 70 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2017, as compared to non-Hispanic white females of the same age.
  • A report from the U.S. Surgeon General found that from 1980 – 1995, the suicide rate among African Americans ages 10 to 14 increased 233 percent, as compared to 120 percent of non-Hispanic whites.8

Asian American Community

  • Suicide was the leading cause of death for Asian Americans, ages 15 to 24, in 2017.
  • Asian American females, in grades 9-12, were 20 percent more likely to attempt suicide as compared to non-Hispanic white female students, in 2017.
  • Southeast Asian refugees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with trauma experienced before and after immigration to the U.S. One study found that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care were diagnosed with PTSD.
  • The overall suicide rate for Asians Americans is half that of the non-Hispanic white population.9

Hispanic/ Latino American Community

  • The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate for Hispanic women, in 2017.
  • In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Hispanics, ages 15 to 34.10
  • Suicide attempts for Hispanic girls, grades 9-12, were 40 percent higher than for non-Hispanic white girls in the same age group, in 2017.
  • Non-Hispanic whites received mental health treatment twice as often as Hispanics, in 2018. 11

Native Hawaiians/ Pacific Islander Community

  • In 2018, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults had similar rates of mental illness as compared to non-Hispanic whites.
  • However in 2018, Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were significantly less likely to receive mental health services or to receive prescription medications for mental health treatment.
  • National behavioral health statistics for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders is limited at this time.12