The 2020s Should See Huge Growth in
Online Therapy Services
It’s a consequence of the innovation in technology that more and more industries are finding their natural home to be online rather than in physical spaces. Everything from bookselling to banking to bridal dresses, the first place we look to access these products is online.
Yet, arguably the industry which has put up the most resistance to an online presence is the therapy industry. Other areas of healthcare have been quick to move online – you can easily make an appointment with a doctor through Skype or other means these days. But, by and large, when we think of therapy, we still picture a face to face interaction with a therapist in an office.
This is understandable, of course, as there is a sense of intimacy that has always gone hand in hand with the idea of therapy. But there are signs that there will be a huge surge in online therapy in the coming years. Indeed, therapy experts are leading the calls for more access to online services. It’s recommended you read some of the reasons why they believe it is so important, because mental health could be one of the main issues – socially and financially – to be addressed by authorities in the coming years.
Online Therapy Adapts to Different Needs
The main question to be addressed is whether online therapy offers the same quality of service that one would find in a therapist’s office? To be clear, it’s a moot point. Everyone’s needs for therapy are different, as are the reactions to different treatments. Consider someone with agoraphobia. Broadly, agoraphobia is the fear of going outside, but it also combines a fear of social embarrassment and fears of engagement with people.
It’s not a great leap to think that better access to online therapy services can help people with issues like agoraphobia, but there are other factors too; notably, people with disabilities who find it difficult to leave the home. Elderly people, too, have been cited as the ‘silent sufferers’ of mental health in this damning report set out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
In almost every debate about mental health, two words loom large above everything else – awareness and access. To be fair, governments, agencies, charities and individuals have been making strides in building the former through initiatives like World Mental Health Day. But for the latter, access, might become an even greater issue in the coming years.
Market Set for Considerable Growth By 2025
Mental health issues are covered to some extent by Medicare in the US, and wholly by the NHS in the UK, but there is a lot of strain on the services, not just in those countries but globally. In parts of the developing world there is priority given to physical ailments in the healthcare systems, and in some countries mental health programmes are all but non-existent.
One report sees a huge spike in online therapy by the middle of the next decade, and that should, of course, be welcomed by campaigners. The option to have access to online treatment creates diversity in the system, and it could free up the ‘couch space’ in a therapist’s office for those who need it. Moreover, as we often see with this type of surge, new players could join the established players, like Talkspace and ReGain, in the market.
The move into online therapy should be backed by governments and, indeed, business. It’s just one solution to a growing global problem, but it feels like an important part of the puzzle. It’s worth remembering that offering online support to patients with mental health needs does not necessarily dilute the standard of care they receive. In fact, in some areas it can probably improve it.