Why Live Chat Therapy is Gaining Popularity in America

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, the country saw sudden national lockdowns to combat the pandemic. This uprooting of typical life, not to mention a whole host of other stressors of living in modern times, has resulted in an explosion of mental health issues in America. In fact, the CDC reported that in March 2020, there was an over 150% increase in tele-health appointments as compared to the previous year. One area of tele-health that was especially noteworthy was virtual therapy.

An increasing number of patients have begun using Live Chat as one of many digital tools to communicate with providers virtually and get the help they need.

For Making Money conducted a survey of 1,100+ people in March 2021 in order to determine trends around digital therapy in America. We asked respondents how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted their mental health and opinions about therapy. Check out the insights below.

What do Americans think about therapy?

One of the most important issues to address around mental health care is access. While nearly four out of every five Americans (78%) have received some kind of therapy in the past, there is the need to address some issues. These include the stigma around mental health care and lack of culturally sensitive therapy that’s led some people away from treatment in order to close the gap.

65% of people that have received therapy felt embarrassed for seeking out support, which may have impacted their willingness to start or continue care. Further, of those who have not received therapy, about 56% of these individuals did consider seeking treatment. 

What stands between those who want to receive therapy and those who actually attend a session? Digital tools might provide the answer.

How do Americans prefer to receive therapy?

bar charts showing the therapy formats Americans prefer

There are more forms in which to receive therapy than ever before. But what do patients actually prefer in the United States?

By far, the most popular therapy format that people seek and use is one-on-one in-person therapy, with 78% of respondents currently in therapy preferring that format. Interestingly, live chat therapy was the second most-desired therapy format, even though it was not popular by those in therapy currently. 

This could mean that live chat therapy is seen as an attractive path to entry to therapy for those who are new or returning to it. Let’s dive deeper into what live chat therapy actually looks like, and what its benefits are. 

How does live chat compare to in-person therapy?

graphs highlighting American’s feelings towards online therapy versus other forms

As the previous results suggest, live chat therapy could make a huge difference in bringing people into therapy. Live chat therapy allows for patients to send text messages back and forth with a therapist. Chats can be set up through individual therapists or through apps that have entire teams of therapists ready to reply.

This therapy format is extremely popular. Respondents indicated that they are more likely to participate in live chat therapy than other digital methods like video chats or phone calls, as well as in-person therapy formats like individual and group sessions. In fact, 51% of the individuals surveyed would rather message a therapist in a live chat than talk to them over the phone. 

Why does live chat work so well for patients? Respondents detailed why they prefer this option. 

bar chart presenting the benefits of live chat therapy

The biggest benefit of live chat therapy, according to patients, is being able to receive therapy without leaving home (67%). Live chat therapy at home allows individuals to continue with mental health upkeep during social distancing, and even when combined with other digital tools, it can create a seamless virtual therapy experience.

Flexibility in scheduling and the added time outside of a typical appointment length were also very important. It’s clear that convenience and ease of access are the most important factors to simplify mental health care. Digital tools can significantly help streamline the process. 

How has the Covid-19 pandemic impacted online therapy?

graphs showcasing how COVID-19 has impacted mental health services

The COVID-19 pandemic not only forced our entire lives online but also created multiple conditions that would cause individuals to seek out therapy. In fact, 59% of people have seen their interest in therapy increase or have actively received therapy as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly a third (28%) of individuals reported that the pandemic had major negative impacts on their mental health. 

The major aspects of the pandemic that compelled individuals to take care of themselves through therapy were the overall impact of the pandemic on mental health (54%), fear for personal health and safety (48.30%), and isolation/fewer in-person interactions (42%). 

As the world returns to normal, it’s likely that we’ll see a combination of virtual therapy solutions remaining popular along with patients returning to in-person meetings with their therapists.

Getting started with digital therapy

Major insights from this survey include:

  • 59% of people have seen their interest in therapy increase or have actively received therapy as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 33% of individuals considering therapy would prefer a live chat option, which may make it an important entry path for new patients
  • 51% of the individuals surveyed would rather message a therapist in a live chat than talk to them over the phone
  • Major benefits of live-chat therapy include flexibility to seek therapy from home and at any time

Looking to get started in remote, virtual therapy? Many insurance companies have tele-health options covered under their plans. Check with your provider, or look into third-party sources such as Talkspace or BetterHelp.

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