Affordable, free mental health help available remotely for those overwhelmed by pandemic

CR survey: 38% of adults experiencing pandemic-related anxiety, depression

SAN ANTONIO – Therapist Eli Nowak has seen a rise in patients seeking help because they are stressed out or overwhelmed by current events.

“It has been extremely challenging for most, if not all, of the people I have worked with,” he said.

A Consumer Reports survey found 38% of adults have experienced anxiety or depression related to the pandemic. It’s taking a toll on mental health as people deal with isolation, political tension and worry over money, health and sending children to school.

To help his patients, Nowak has had to adapt.

“Since mid-March, I have shifted my practice to strictly via video or telephone,” he said.

Just like telemedicine, teletherapy has seen increased demand.

“Numerous studies have shown that teletherapy can be as effective as in-person care,” said Consumer Reports’ Rachel Rabkin Peachman. “They can offer patients more scheduling flexibility, convenience, privacy and a bigger pool of potential therapists.”

To find a therapist to see you virtually, start by asking for a referral from your primary physician.

Several websites, including the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association, can help, too.

If you have health insurance, the company’s website should list the therapists they cover. There are free options out there, too.

“You can call 211 or visit www.211.org for a referral to a provider who offers support at no cost or on a sliding scale based on your budget,” Peachman said.

Bexar County also has a Department of Behavioral Health at www.bexar.org that offers timely advice about dealing with COVID-related mental health issues and a list of other local resources.

People can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and talk anonymously to a trained mental health professional for free.

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