The Covid-19 pandemic forced a lot of change. How we live. How we work. How we learn. And, some of those changes stuck. People like being able to work from home, learn from anywhere, and engage with people at any time.
What may have once been viewed as infeasible, virtual therapy has proven to be an effective way for clinicians to work with their clients in a post-pandemic world. Everyone should approach therapy in a way that is most comfortable to them, but Daybreak has worked with hundreds of kids via online therapy and we have seen the positive outcomes it has had in helping them to live happier and healthier lives.
An alarming 91% of parents are worried about their children's mental health. Virtual therapy has a lot of benefits. Here are the top 5:
1. Meets Kids Where They Are: Tech
Our kids are digital natives. Whether we like it or not, some of them know how to “swipe left” before they can even talk. They socialize with their friends, text their grandparents, and correspond with their teachers on their devices. For them, connecting to other people through technology is the norm.
So, although it might seem strange for adults to understand how someone could build a trusted relationship with their therapist online, for kids it is natural. Chances are they will feel more comfortable talking to their therapist through video than they would in a traditional, in-person office setting.
2. Provides Access to More Diverse Therapists
In the past, kids were extremely limited in the therapists they could see. Families would have to rely on whatever therapist had availability and was in close physical proximity to them. This didn’t create many opportunities for kids to see a therapist that they could personally relate to.
A “therapeutic alliance” is the interaction between the therapist and their client. In order to create a strong therapeutic alliance, and see positive outcomes, kids need to feel comfortable and connected to their therapist. Because virtual therapy provides access to more diverse therapists, kids can find a therapist who has a shared set of experiences and a unique understanding of their background, culture, ethnicity, race, and more. They can also meet with someone who has in-depth experience with specific youth mental health issues.
The power of a strong therapeutic alliance is undeniable. At Daybreak, we match each child to a clinician based on their therapeutic needs (our clinicians are specialized across 26 different mental health conditions and 13 modalities of care) and personal preferences including personality, gender, language, culture, race, and more. Because of this, 90% of the kids we work with report being satisfied with their matched therapist, including BIPOC and LGBTQ+ kids.
3. Helps to Solve the Demand>Supply Issue
Ask any parent who has tried to find a therapist for their child recently and they will tell you that it’s nearly impossible and requires persistence, flexibility, and resourcefulness. According to The State of Youth Mental Health Report, 98% of parents reported a waitlist to get their child mental health services. The American Psychological Association reported that 51% of psychologists have seen higher rates of teens seeking therapy since the beginning of the pandemic. The high need for mental health services, coupled with the therapist shortage, is exacerbating the already dire state of youth mental health.
For schools, the inability to hire mental health professionals forces current staff to prioritize crisis situations and their caseloads far exceed recommended limits. Students have long wait times to get the services they urgently need and there’s no time or resources devoted to preventative services. When virtual therapy is accessible to students, their online therapist can fully focus on their individual therapeutic needs, uninterrupted, regardless of what crisis may arise on campus.
Virtual therapy allows kids to have increased access to mental health professionals, faster. At Daybreak, we are committed to getting children access to the care they need in a matter of days.
4. Enables More Equitable Access & Flexibility
The opportunity to meet with a therapist anytime or anywhere allows for the flexibility that kids and families need. Kids can easily do sessions at home or at school, before or after school, and during summer or holiday breaks.
For families, this saves them hours of time transporting their child to and from therapy. In a recent report, 82% of parents said that they spend at least 1-2 hours transporting their children to therapy, and of that group, 41% spend 3-4 hours per session. The impact of this time away from school and work is significant.
In rural areas, there are huge barriers and inequities in getting access to mental health care. Virtual therapy presents a tremendous opportunity for kids in remote locations to have equal access to qualified mental health professionals.
5. Drives Positive Outcomes
Most importantly, we know that virtual therapy works. Clinically, Daybreak has seen improvements in 4 out of 5 of the kids we work with based on at least one clinically validated mental health assessment (GAD-7/ PHQ-9/ WHO-5) after >8-weeks of weekly treatment. And, 3 in 4 youths report symptomatic improvements.
Anecdotally, the results speak for themselves:
“My counselor makes therapy something that I look forward to and I know I am getting a lot out of the strategies. It has made a big impact on my life.”
“I now know how to control my emotions, seek what’s best for me, and really see how I am.”
“I have someone to talk to about anything and everything. This was a pleasure that I did not have before receiving counseling. Additionally, I better understand myself and my harmful tendencies.”
“I am able to let out my emotions and thoughts that are bothering me. It helps me get through stress. I feel like my therapist was really fit for me and my personality and she helped a lot!”
“I always thought that having a therapist meant something was wrong with me. I was wrong. Having a therapist means I have a place that is safe, somewhere that is only for me. You gave me that place. I never felt judged for being ME.”
If you are interested in learning more about Daybreak’s virtual mental health services, please reach out at email@example.com.
The State of Youth Mental Health & Our Schools
How schools are responding to the rising demand for student mental health services.