Consumer Reports: Affordable mental health help amid COVID-19 pandemic

ByConsumer Reports
Monday, August 3, 2020
COVID 19 mental health: Affordable help advice from Consumer Reports
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Lots of people are having mental health struggles during this pandemic, but there are ways you can find help even without leaving your home.

A recent Consumer Reports survey found that 38 percent of adults have experienced depression or anxiety as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. But there are ways to get affordable mental health help, even if you're staying home.

Like many of us, Eli Nowak, a therapist in northern New Jersey, has had to adapt because of the pandemic.

"Since mid-March, I have shifted my practice to strictly via video or telephone," Nowak said.

He has also seen an uptick in patients seeking help because of stresses caused by current events.

"It has been extremely challenging for most if not all of the people I have worked with," Nowak said.

"Numerous studies have shown that teletherapy can be as effective as in-person care. And they can offer patients more scheduling flexibility, convenience, privacy, and a bigger pool of potential therapists," said Consumer Reports Investigative Reporter Rachel Rabkin Peachman.

If you're interested in finding a therapist who will see you virtually, a good place to begin is by asking for a referral from your primary care provider, family or friends.

A number of websites can be a good resource as well, like the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association.

If you have health insurance, you can also look on your insurer's website for a list of therapists covered under your plan.

There are also free options out there.

"You can call 211 or visit for a referral to a provider who offers support at no cost or on a sliding scale based on your budget. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and talk anonymously to a trained mental-health professional for free," Rabkin Peachman said.

And to get the most out of a virtual session, it's important that you feel comfortable with the therapist.

"When talking to a prospective therapist, ask about the person's years in practice, specialties, therapy techniques, and fee," Rabkin Peachman said.

And if you or someone you know needs help, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255), or message the Crisis Text Line at 741741. Both programs provide free, confidential support 24/7.