As clichéd as it has become, the phrase ‘health is wealth’ is forever and ever true. WHO defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. A healthy body, according to Prasanna School of Public Health is “defined as the overall ability of the body to function well.” This will include the physical, mental, emotional, and social wellbeing of the individual. Hence, a person who is not healthy is a menace to themself and cannot enjoy life, even if such a person is wealthy.
One major aspect of health is however more deserving of attention – mental health. More than any other aspect, mental health contributes to the success story or otherwise of the individual. It is along this line that WHO describe mental health as a state of wellbeing in which an individual realises his or her own abilities, can cope with normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.
The organisation goes further to say mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. In the same vein, UK Surgeon Journal says mental health is the successful performance of the mental function resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with other people, and providing the ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.
Nobody is immune to poor mental health and there are many social, psychological, and biological factors that can hamper one’s mental health. These factors include but not limited to rapid social change, stressful work conditions, gender discrimination, social exclusion, unhealthy lifestyle, physical ill-health, human right violations, genetic problems, personal failings and disappointments.
“Make not your thoughts your prison,” says the immortal William Shakespeare through one of his characters in his Roman play, Antony and Cleopatra. Nobody deserves to suffer in silence. Lisa Olivera, a family therapist, argues “just because no else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you can, should, or need to do it alone.”
The truth is that many people who try to seek help do not usually get it owing to the limited availability of trained providers.
This is what formed the background to the research published on JMIR Publications by researchers from University of California and San Francisco General Hospital: “although psychotherapy is one of the most efficacious and effective treatments of depression, limited accessibility to trained providers markedly limits access to care.” The research also acknowledges the attempt by many a platform to provide “these services using the digital modalities” like videos, texts and chats. These modalities are not without their problems when it comes to access to and acceptability of the intervention.
Many options are now available for people to access mental therapy as governments, non-governmental organisations, and philanthropists are investing more in mental health. This is in stark contrast to what was obtainable in early history where mental illness was viewed as a personal issue and religious castigation (Unite for Sight, 2015).
In most part of the developing world, even in contemporary times, mental illnesses are still treated as religious issues. This may not be unconnected to the unavailability of professionals in the field. It is therefore soothing to observe that some communities of licensed therapists have also sprung up to cater to the therapeutic needs of the people.
One of such is BetterHelp, a community of licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited psychologist, marriage and family therapists, clinical social workers, and counsellors. BetterHelp, unlike many others, is a multimodal platform which allows users to combine as many available modalities as suitable to their needs. In fact, the aim of the JMIR research was to “investigate the preliminary effectiveness of providing psychotherapy through a multimodal digital psychotherapy platform.”
The unique thing about BetterHelp is that it is one hundred percent online based and that means you can get therapy at any time, any place, of your convenience as against what obtains in the traditional in-office therapy. Other benefits are the availability of chat sessions, phone sessions, video sessions, easy scheduling, digital worksheets, group sessions, smart provider matching, and easy to switch providers.
The evidence that it is effective is in the fantastic testimonials of patrons of the platform who are excited to tell the world about the tremendous change the service has done in their lives. This is corroborated by the conclusion of the study published by JMIR. The conclusion is worth quoting extensively:
“Users of BetterHelp experienced significantly reduced depression symptom severity after engaging with the platform. Study finding suggests that this intervention is equally effective across gender, self-reported financial status, and self-reported physical health status and particularly effective for individuals without a history of psychotherapy. Overall, study results suggest that multimodal digital psychotherapy is a potentially effective treatment for adult depression; nevertheless, experimental trials are needed. We discuss directions for future research.”