Can you get a therapist during lockdown?

For many people, lockdown is having a negative impact on their mental health.

A new survey from the Office of National Statistics has revealed that majority of people are more concerned about stress, boredom and anxiety than they are about their general health.

We are isolated from our friends and family, our routines have been interrupted and trying to be ‘perfect’ or overly productive during this time is actually making us ill.

Not to mention the constant worry about what life will look life after lockdown.

That feeling of dread is completely normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cope with.

If it’s all getting a bit too much and you need to unload to someone who is trained to help, it might be worth considering getting a therapist.

We find out how you can get a therapist during lockdown, how much you can expect to pay and what your options are (phone/text/video).

How to get a therapist during lockdown

In line with government guidelines, clinics are closed at present, so you won’t be able to have an in-person session with a mental health professional.

However, there are many virtual options to choose from.

BetterHelp is an online counselling service that matches you with a therapist based on your needs, whether that be grief from the death of a loved one (coronavirus or not), general anxiety and stress, relationship problems or something else.

First, you are asked to answer a few brief questions about yourself and your mental health, and the system will then find you a suitable therapist.

As part of the package, which costs about £32.48 per week, you will get one live session per week via video chat or phone (depending on availability and what you prefer), and limitless messaging with your therapist.

You also get access to an online journal where you can jot down your thoughts.

The best part of the service is that if you’re not getting what you’re after from the therapist you’ve been assigned, you can easily swap for a different one by requesting it through the system.

The downside is that you’d have to go through all of your concerns again with a new person, which could stagger your progress.

If you prefer to select the therapist yourself, Harley Therapy offers sessions from £25 and upwards, with a bio of each professional and their qualifications, but prices can go up to several hundred pounds depending on who you select.

Similarly, you can opt for video, phone or chat to them online.

Other online counselling services include Talkspace, though this is slightly more expensive at £52.83 per week or, where you can search from among 1,100 mental health professionals with a range of prices.

For more specific areas, such as drug or alcohol addiction, there’s the Priory Group, which has rehabilitation programmes and other services, as well as UKAT, which has 160 detox and rehab beds in the UK.

UKAT also has a 24/7 confidential helpline, on 02039 496 584.

If you go through the NHS, you can access mental health services, such as counselling or online cognitive behavioural programmes for free – but these often come with long waiting times.

Your best bet is to contact your GP and explain that you need help, so that they can then refer you to the services in your local area.

They might also recommend you to Silver Cloud, an eight-week online course that helps people manage depression, anxiety and stress by completing various tasks in their own time, such as watching videos, taking quizzes, meditating, writing in journals and more.

You have access to it for a year, and you’re also assigned a counsellor who will check in with you every two weeks through Silver Cloud’s messaging system.

Therapy can be very helpful once you find the counsellor or programme that suits your needs.

And although there is a stigma attached to mental health, getting therapy is incredibly common – and nothing to be ashamed of.

It’s never been more important to look after your mental health than it is right now.

Where to get help if you can’t wait for a therapy appointment

If you need urgent help, there are a variety of sources to turn to, depending on your concerns.

Contact Samaritans on 116 123 if you need someone to talk to (it’s free and confidential) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 to find more information on where to get help near you.

If you’re a young person in crisis, contact Young Minds. You can get urgent help from the charity by texting YM to 85258.

Alternatively, Childline offers one-to-one counselling chats from 9am to midnight, but you will have to wait in a queue for someone to answer, and the queue will close at 10.30pm to ensure everyone gets through.

As always, if it’s an immediate emergency, call 999.

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