When was the last time that you visited your therapist? For too many people in the United States, the answer is “a long time ago,” or worse yet, “never.” This is a big problem, especially — but not exclusively — for those suffering from mental illnesses like depression, according to the experts at Psychology Today.
Psychology Today’s findings show that barriers to depression treatment include systemic failures like lack of mental health care access and health insurance coverage, but also personal and societal concerns like the “opinion of neighbors” and “concern about effect on job.” What’s true for depression treatment is true of many other types of treatments, from general-purpose counseling to speech therapy.
All across the country, Americans are skimping on their own mental health treatment not (or not only) because of outside barriers, but because of their own biases, fears, and busy schedules.
Here’s the truth, as any good therapist would tell it to you: Everyone needs access to great mental health care, which includes both professional treatment and healthy daily choices. It’s up to you to find a way to fit mental health benefits into your life. We have some tips to help you along.
Therapy and Your Schedule
There’s no shortage of great therapists, but there is a shortage of time in your schedule. Happily, we’re living in the 2020s. You don’t necessarily need to head to a therapist’s office to get therapy, and you don’t necessarily need to rely on a phone call, either.
What you can do is use your phone call (or an email) to set up teletherapy. Thanks to advances in teleconferencing technology, teletherapy is becoming more common. You won’t just find teletherapy in places like New York City or Southern California; you can get teletherapy in Baltimore and other mid-sized cities, as well as in suburban and even rural areas. Global teletherapy models break down even more barriers (while many therapists use teletherapy to supplement their local practices’ in-person visits, global teletherapy makes therapy an option even in remote locations).
This isn’t some nonsensical startup idea. Psychology Today has the scoop on this, too: According to Psychology Today, teletherapy has proven benefits that mirror those of traditional in-person therapy. Plus, Psychology Today says this new vision of therapy may even have distinct advantages over the old model. A low barrier to entry, Psychology Today writes, could help new clients get on board even if they find the idea of going to a therapist’s office in person to be upsetting. Couple’s therapy can be done remotely in some cases, too; even the whole family could get involved.
Psychology Today also maintains a directory of reliable teletherapy providers, making it even easier for you to fit therapy into your schedule: Just head to Psychology Today’s directory, pick out a pro near you, and hop on teleconferencing software to start making improvements to your mental health.
Mental Health and Your Routine
You don’t have to be a Psychology Today reporter to see that routines matter to your mental health. Many of the decisions we make each day aren’t really decisions at all; they’re habits, and we’re just along for the ride.
Working with your therapist, you should identify issues with your daily routine. Look for things like diet (eating poorly can affect your mental health), exercise (it’s good for your mind, too), and sleep (disrupting your sleep with an uncomfortable bed or a cocktail before you snooze can have a negative impact on your mental health).
But don’t forget about your mental health when you break out of your routine, either. A vacation from work should not be a vacation from your mental health. Vacations are good for your mental health to begin with, so your trip to San Diego or Hawaii should be helping you make mental health strides from the get-go. Just don’t ruin it by filling your week off with fatty foods, booze, and no exercise.
Exercise can (and should) be fun, especially on vacation. Why not take bodyboarding lessons or surf lessons? A bodyboarding lesson can keep you moving for a day without breaking the spell of your tropical vacation. Surf instructors are ready for surfers of any skill level, so don’t rule that out, either. And if all of this still sounds like too much, why not check out stand-up paddling?
The point is this: To make strides with your mental health, your good habits need to be routine. And for your good habits to remain routine, you need to remember them on vacation. So send in a booking request for that surfing camp, and take advantage of global teletherapy to stay in touch with your therapist while you’re enjoying your week off. It’s all a part of making mental health care a part of your life for good.
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