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Therapists, counselors move to online sessions for those in need of mental health services

Once a way to connect in underserved areas, now it is how therapists are seeing patients even just down the street.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This can be a stressful time, but there is help out there. Changes in your job or living situation can all impact your mental health. For that reason, counselors and therapists are taking sessions online.

Telecounseling is not new, but it is expanding. Once a way to connect in underserved areas, now it is how therapists are seeing patients even just down the street.

“Pretty much the same setup as how we’re doing this interview,” Dr. Paul McRae said in a video chat with On Your Side reporter Alex Osiadacz. McRae is a licensed mental health counselor practicing in Florida and Washington.

He added if you feel anxious or depressed, have lost interest in activities that once brought joy or are suicidal, those are immediate reasons to seek help.

Other signs it may be good to find someone to talk to could be, but are not limited to, feeling tired, changes in eating habits or not engaging in social opportunities such as phone or video chats with friends or loved ones.

“Seriously taking control of the things they can control and try to stay positive and look forward,” McRae said.

Where do you go for this kind of help?

Many employers have resource centers or HR divisions that can put you in touch with providers. Costs vary. If you’re unemployed or have lost benefits during the pandemic, there is still help available.

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is a federal resource that can link you with mental health professionals in your area who can treat over the phone or online.

McRae explains while it’s ideal to see patients in person, the option for telecounseling expands access to those in need.

“It lets you see that person’s nonverbal communication and their mannerisms are, but in this day and age it’s as close as you can,” McRae said.

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