• 70°

Finding mental health resources online during COVID-19

By Macey Hall

Anxiety disorders are currently the most common mental health issue in the U.S., but the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates only a third of people who suffer receive treatment.

While, at first, this may seem puzzling, my story highlights some barriers to receiving treatment. I also hope it inspires and informs you on how you can find resources during these difficult times.

My name is Macey Hall, and this is my story of how I found web-based counseling resources for my anxiety disorders.

During a time when my anxiety was the worst, I could no longer receive treatment from my therapist or nurse practitioner.

I had developed agoraphobia, a type of anxiety disorder that makes it difficult for people to leave their house or safe zone, so I could no longer drive from Winchester to Lexington to receive treatment.

Unfortunately, neither of my practitioners offered a web-based service.

I was having daily panic attacks and could barely make it to the supermarket without experiencing crippling anxiety, and it kept getting worse.

My doctor suggested frequent counseling and new medication, but I did not know where to turn for help.

I began scrolling through the internet, and found BetterHelp. This is one of several companies dedicated to connecting people to counselors through websites, who specialize in various mental health issues. Within 24 hours, I was connected to a licensed social worker based in Kentucky, and I now meet with her every week. Sometimes we even chat over their text messaging service when I am having a rough day.

I was about to give up hope of finding help, but I found there are several online platforms that offer therapy for individuals whose needs are not met by traditional in-office therapy.

I also found a nurse practitioner through the Kentucky Counseling Center (they also offer therapy) who I can video chat with and receive medication management.

While I still suffer from agoraphobia, these online resources have given me the tools I need to take the next steps in my healing journey.

COVID-19 may have uncovered or increased a mental illness in yourself, friend or family member. It may also be difficult, as it was for me, to receive help in an office setting.

Please know that there are people online ready to help you. In addition to BetterHelp and the Kentucky Counseling Center, NewVista and Mountain Comprehensive Care Center in Winchester both offer online services. NAMI Winchester also has teleconference support meetings.

No matter what you are going through, I encourage you to reach out for help. There are people waiting on the other end of your phone or computer to help you, no matter where you are on your journey.

NAMI Winchester has support meetings for family members and peers on the first and third Mondays of each month at 7 p.m. To keep members and the community safe, meetings are currently held via teleconference. For complete information on meetings call 859-749-3702, and leave a message.

For more information, visit  www.mhanational.org. For local resources visit www.winclarkresources.org