Telehealth offers benefits during pandemic | Local News

Even before the coronavirus pandemic started, counseling centers utilized telehealth resources, but the recent state of health safety has increased the use even more.

“We’ve always had telehealth, however, it is more relevant now. Telehealth gives us an opportunity to connect with more people, especially in our rural communities,” Deidre Turner, director of the Counseling Center at Family Guidance Center, said.

Some of their clients have to drive 30 minutes to an hour to come for an appointment and being able to connect on a virtual platform is more beneficial. 

“Now they can just pick up their phone, they can turn on their computers, they can utilize apps on their phones in order to have these sessions. So of course it becomes more cost-effective because it saves on gas money with those drives. It’s also more convenient,” Turner said. “There are so many people now that are utilizing our services during lunch breaks, they’re not having to worry about putting in paid time off in order to get to these appointments, which is so helpful.”

Turner also mentions the benefits for children who are back in school either in person or in a virtual sense that now have the ability to still make their appointments without having to miss class.

“Telehealth is also really helpful when it comes to the individuals who have a little anxiety about coming in the building, sitting in waiting rooms, it cuts down a lot on waiting time,” Turner said.

Although Turner said there are more pros than cons when it comes to telehealth, there are some challenges, “Especially with our little kiddos, and sometimes it’s more difficult to keep them engaged. We do have, for instance, we have play therapists here and so that play therapist does a wonderful job in making sure kiddos have toys at home so that she can reflect, do some of the imitation work to allow for behavior change.”

The biggest impact the pandemic has made is how people are changing the way they reach out for help.

“More and more people are getting comfortable and familiar with using a telephone. Sometimes it’s hard when you recognize that ‘I’m struggling to walk into a place’ for whatever reason, some people may feel as though they’re going to be judged,” Turner said. “Having that opportunity to pick up a phone knowing that, ‘okay, this individual is not going to see my face,’ maybe that makes it a little bit more comfortable.”

The pandemic may have caused more stress for many in addition to causing isolation. Turner encourages everyone to reach out to friends and loved ones in any way possible.

“It’s just so important to really utilize social supports. Just like how we have telehealth, please get with your friends, use Dual, use Zoom. Someone just told me about House Party the other day, which is another app I thought was super cool. Make sure you’re just taking time for yourself,” Turner said.

Turner went on to say practicing mindfulness and being aware of your mental state as well as your physical state can have as much of an impact.

“Everyone benefits from therapy services, therapists, we even benefit. It’s just a great opportunity to be able to express your thoughts to talk about your emotions in recognizing how different stressors are impacting your current behaviors,” Turner said. “Therapy is a great thing, just like how we’re expected to brush our teeth, we’re expected to take care of our mental health so please reach out to a therapist.”     

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