Mental Health News A Verywell Report: Americans Find Strength in Online Therapy By Brett Spiegel, MPH Brett Spiegel, MPH LinkedIn Brett Spiegel, MPH holds a Master's in Public Health from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in New York. He is the former Editorial Director for Verywell Health. Learn about our editorial process Updated on November 09, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Amy Morin, LCSW Medically reviewed by Amy Morin, LCSW Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Amy Morin, LCSW, is the Editor-in-Chief of Verywell Mind. She's also a psychotherapist, the author of the bestselling book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do," and the host of The Verywell Mind Podcast. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Verywell / Catherine Song Online therapy has emerged as a practical, reliable, and effective way for many to prioritize their mental health. More popular than ever, online therapy is bringing relief and support to millions of Americans struggling with the collective issues impacting our country, as well as their own personal challenges. According to Verywell’s new study of 1,000 Americans currently in online therapy, there’s one thing everyone can agree on—online therapy is here to help. In fact, 90% of those surveyed agree that seeking out mental health services is a true sign of strength. Amy Morin, LCSW In the past, there’s been fear that asking for help is a sign of weakness. Fortunately, it seems people are starting to recognize that it takes strength to admit you want support. — Amy Morin, LCSW While long overdue, it is finally time to proudly prioritize mental health, bid farewell to any lingering stigma, and lean in to all the help online therapy has to offer—at a time when we need it most. Of those surveyed, 83% of people say they’re turning to their therapists to talk about the 2020 election, the coronavirus pandemic, racism, the economic recession, and more. Decline of Mental Health Stigma The very foundation of online therapy has always been to provide people with a safe and accessible space to discuss concerns, conflicts, challenges, health conditions, everyday thoughts and needs, and more with a trained mental health professional. But existing stigma around mental health treatment—and an unfamiliar platform that significantly altered the therapeutic environment—meant online therapy remained far from top-of-mind. With the unprecedented events of 2020, however, the need for mental health support is outweighing the stigma and many are now opening up about their experiences. In fact, 74% of those surveyed openly share that they see a therapist and 89% agree that society would be better off if more people sought out mental health services. On top of that, an overwhelming 91% of people currently in online therapy agree that more people should try it, a ringing endorsement that no doubt clears the runway for online therapy’s continued success. Amy Morin, LCSW Online therapy offers flexibility that traditional therapy doesn’t. Some people message their therapist throughout the day and appreciate that they don’t have to wait a week for feedback. Others like to schedule live chats or video sessions when they need it. — Amy Morin, LCSW These users rely on online therapy to get them through the ups and downs of today's unsteady landscape. So, it should come as no surprise that over a third of Americans surveyed plan on continuing to see their therapists online for at least the next six months. In these uncertain times, online therapy has become a beacon of hope for so many. 2:13 Watch Now: A Beginner's Guide to Online Therapy Different Regions Have Different Stressors It would be a major understatement to say that stress levels are high. There are many precarious topics that survey respondents are concerned about, including, but not limited to: The government’s handling of COVID-19 (68%) The economic recession (65%) The 2020 election (64%) Racial injustice (61%) Police brutality (60%) While everyone surveyed is worried about something (or many things), the specific political issues, however, differ for these Americans depending on where they live. Of those who are currently in online therapy: Northeast: Those in the Northeast are overall more worried about many political issues than the entire rest of the country, specifically the government’s response to COVID (74%), the 2020 election (71%), the economic recession (71%), and racial injustice (69%), to name only a few. West: Those in the West trend slightly higher for concerns over police brutality when compared to the rest of the country (65%). But the age-old adage still rings true—actions speak louder than words. Despite how worried Northeasterners are about specific political issues when compared to the rest of the country, those on the West Coast are more likely to bring those issues into their therapy sessions. Not everyone tells their therapist everything, but of those surveyed: West: Those in the West lean more heavily on online therapy for help coping with political issues when compared to the rest of the country—specifically regarding the government's handling of COVID (52%), racial injustice (46%), and the economic recession (42%), among others. Northeast, Midwest & South: Those in the Northeast, Midwest, and South may not be as engaged as those in the West quite yet, but about 1 in 3 from each of these regions is going online to discuss racial injustice, the economic recession, and the spread of misinformation with their therapist. The Pros and Cons of Online Therapy Online Therapy Is Helping People Find Relief Not all those surveyed are brand new to therapy. In fact, 56% of people surveyed transitioned from in-person therapy to online therapy in the last six months, most likely due to COVID-related protocol. But 1 in 5 of those surveyed actually began online therapy in the last three months. This is not only suggestive of the piling stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns affecting Americans in recent months, but of the tools Americans are using to cope. The strategy seems to be working too, with high levels of satisfaction among those who are in online therapy. Among people currently in online therapy, 92% express satisfaction with their overall experience, specifically citing:Ease of use (92%)Privacy (91%)Response time (91%)Quality of counseling (90%)Security (86%)Cost (82%) Furthermore, 93% of those surveyed agree that therapy is helpful. This is promising in such a time of national unrest and social turmoil, and explains why 1 in 3 surveyed say current election issues are among the very reasons they are presently seeking treatment through online therapy. In addition to other mental health concerns or personal matters, 54% of people surveyed also report that election issues comprise at least half of the topics addressed in their sessions. And of those who actually discuss current political stressors with their therapist, 72% say they find it helpful and 78% would recommend that others do the same. Amy Morin, LCSW Online therapy can be more accessible for people. You don’t need to arrange for childcare or commute, it typically costs less than in-person treatment, and it can be helpful to those in rural areas or in areas with long waitlists since most online therapy sites match people to a therapist within a day or two. — Amy Morin, LCSW All these findings suggest that online therapy is helping people find relief and support in a time of utter unpredictability. And it’s not just national issues impacting mental health, but how national issues show up and create challenges for people’s everyday lives. For example, among those who have discussed these issues with their therapist: 71% found help for their apprehension over sending their kids back to school 67% found help for dealing with their job loss 65% found help for being discriminated against 64% found help for their uneasiness of going back to work 63% found help for their concern over them or their loved ones contracting COVID-19 Press Play for Advice On Online Therapy Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares the pros and cons of online therapy. Click below to listen now. Subscribe Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts A Word From Verywell Staying grounded when things are in flux is never easy, let alone during such turbulent times for the nation as a whole. But there is promise—that those who choose to participate in online therapy can recognize it is a healthy and successful action. And there’s agreement—that online therapy is a way to combat stress and mental health concerns, but also the uncertainty and discomfort that results from the national dialogue. But perhaps most important, there is unity that online therapy is a true sign of strength and a powerful tool that, if utilized, can help many more Americans maintain better mental health. Methodology Verywell conducted the above research as an online survey, fielded to 1,000 adults living in the U.S. from August 17, 2020 to September 4, 2020. To qualify, survey participants must have spoken with a therapist online in the last three months and typically do so at least once a month. Quotas were used to ensure representation across gender, region, and race/ethnicity. The margin of error is +/- 3% with a 95% confidence level and is higher for subgroups. Demographics were as follows:Gender: 59% Female, 40% Male, 1% Non-Binary/Third GenderGeneration: 8% Gen Z, 41% Millennial, 26% Gen X, 24% Boomer or OlderRegion: 20% Northeast, 20% Midwest, 38% South, 23% WestLocation: 43% Suburban, 39% Urban, 18% RuralRace/Ethnicity: 69% White, 15% Black, 16% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 3% Native American or Alaskan Native Political Views: 26% Conservative, 30% Moderate, 39% LiberalEducation: 58% College Graduate or More, 42% Some College or Less By Brett Spiegel, MPH Brett Spiegel, MPH holds a Master's in Public Health from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy in New York. He is the former Editorial Director for Verywell Health. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? 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