Video conferencing means never having to be alone.
With a webcam or smartphone and the internet, you can theoretically speak face-to-face with anyone in the world.
This ability to reach out and be heard can be critical at times when stress and depression are compounded by a sense of isolation in your real-world surroundings. The good news is that we’re getting better at putting video conferencing to use as a form of ever-ready, instantly available online support and therapy.
LGBT support groups online, for instance, have risen up to provide personal assistance to members of a community that often struggles with mental health issues. In a discreet, intimate online setting, LGBT people can expand their social circle of support beyond the limits of their actual neighborhood or town.
LGBT people are much more likely (almost three times more likely) to have mental health issues, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These include potentially life-threatening conditions such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder. The community also suffers from higher-than-average rates of alcohol and substance abuse.
A number of LGBT support groups online are available to offer everything from an exchange of emails to an in-depth therapy session.
Alarmingly, LGBT people between the ages of 10 and 24 are four times more likely to attempt suicide or experience suicidal thoughts than their straight peers. The National Alliance reports that the social exclusion and discrimination often experienced by LGBT people accounts for much of the disparity between LGBT mental health concerns and those of the broader population.
Fortunately, the LGBT community and the broader mental health field have been quick to take advantage of the potential for video conferencing to provide an alternative means for seeking support–and perhaps acceptance. A number of LGBT support groups online are available to offer everything from an exchange of emails to an in-depth therapy session.
Finding LGBT Support Groups Online
One of the most advanced of these organizations is Pridecounseling.com. The service hosts a number of licensed and credentialed therapists that specialize in LGBT issues. The service is discreet and does not require a referral or introductory material from a family doctor or other health service. Like the best forms of online mental health therapy, potential users access the site themselves through a simple online contact.
After introducing themselves and their circumstances, each user is then matched with a counselor who can proceed at the client’s own pace. Individuals can message their therapist whenever they want and can schedule one-on-one video conferencing sessions around their own schedules.
And the service isn’t the only resource of its kind online–you’ll find a host of links to other services in the box on the right. Some offer online chat support and moderated chat rooms while others connect individuals with psychiatrists and counselors over the phone. The most important aspect of Pridecounseling.com and other LGBT support groups online is that any services offered online are just as effective as those presented through traditional in-person delivery.
The American Psychological Association says studies have shown that telemental health–the delivery of mental health services over the internet including video conference–can be as effective as in-person therapy. They have also noted that the flexible nature of telehealth delivery can benefit both clients and providers.
If the online services are comparable to those provided through traditional brick-and-mortar businesses, then clients can take advantage of the flexible and remote nature of the platform confident they are getting a professional level of care.
The Advantage of Online Therapy
There are two big advantages of online therapy: privacy and flexibility. As VC Daily has previously reported, conducting online therapy privately has helped remove the social stigma surrounding smoking in some cultures and led to a greater use of anti-smoking treatment among specific groups. In stressing privacy and anonymity, it runs along the same ideological lines as groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous–if there’s no public disclosure inherent in seeking help, more people are likely to do so.
Online services also eliminate the need for travel, saving time and resulting in therapy sessions that are only as long as the actual conversation with the therapist.
The second key advantage is the ability to seek out mental health support without rearranging one’s entire life. Sessions can be undertaken over the phone or through a webcam on a desktop computer, making it possible for the user to pursue support during breaks in their working day or after hours. Online services also eliminate the need for travel, saving time and resulting in therapy sessions that are only as long as the actual conversation with the therapist.
We’ve previously talked about video conferencing group therapy and virtual support groups being used to help a number of different communities, from stressed-out students and expectant mothers to those going through grief. There’s even teletherapy for veterans with PTSD.
In each situation, the message is the same: with video conferencing, you are never alone.