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Considering Therapy? Or Meds? Or both?

Cool, I can give you the insider POV because it's been a wild year.

Let's talk about therapy

Therapy is one of those topics that is becoming less stigmatized. Finally.

 

Like mental health, it seems like we are headed into the era of talking more openly about the topic and it seems like there will be a soon be a time that everyone will have mental health doctors…AKA therapists. 

 

When you take a second to think about it, it does seem ridiculous that we go in for routine physical health check ups, but not mental health check ups. We don’t go see a mental health specialist until there’s actually a “problem”, which makes me wonder how much preventative care could be done in that sphere if we just normalized the whole dang thing. In addition, it seems like science is finally catching up to the fact that your mental health affects...wait, for it...your physical health.

Poof, mind explosion. (But also…duh.)

Until we arrive at the golden era when health care will no longer be separated by this dualistic perspective, we just have to work with what we’ve got: a separation of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and therefore a generally disconnected system. 

 

Lucky for you, I’ve tried out a wide range of options of mental health care and can give my two cents on what’s out there:

 

Ginger.io

So depending on your health insurance, this may or may not be a viable option. I am insured with Kaiser Permanente, and because I travel for work and actually was not covered in NYC when I was living there, this was the best option at the time, simply because it is completely remote as well.

 

PROS of this therapy
- It’s remote. In my opinion, this is actually arguably a pro/con because body language is an important part of diagnosing someone.
- You can switch therapists pretty easily if you don’t vibe with the first one. (I did this. Seriously, you should like and feel comfy with whoever you are sharing the most vulnerable parts of you with.)
- You have the option to message a ‘Coach’ in addition. This is a feature I have actually not taken advantage of. However, I believe the pro of this is that you can get more instant feedback in between appointments. My challenge here is that I don’t like texting in the first place, so texting lengthy messages about what I’m going through just doesn’t seem appealing to me. But that being said, I like the spirit of the idea and could definitely see it working for some people!
- And finally - you can also speak with a psychiatrist through this app as well…but this already leads me to a con.​​

 

  • CON

      • Why. Do. Psychiatrists. And. Therapists. Not. Speak. With. One. Another? Drives me bananas. Seems really obvious.

      • Why are psychiatrist session like 15 minutes long? All the appointments I’ve had with my psychiatrist have seemed rushed (on their end) and it’s probably due to high demand. However, this seems problematic since they are the ones actually prescribing medication.

      • ^ These appointments are not in person. I’m saying this is a pro and con because yes to convenience but no to the fact that it’s probably so difficult to assess/measure progress through a digital interface…

      • There’s no systemic way of setting up appointments or process of how appointments will be set up depending on your condition. 

 

  • I think there should be a process in place, depending on the diagnosis for the number of appointments and how they whole ‘treatment’ will be run. Patients, especially those who are doing therapy for the first time, should not be the ones responsible for setting up future appointments. That’s ridiculous. And no these appointments should not be spaced out by weeks/months. In my opinion, if a person is just starting out on medication or even talk therapy, I really think check ins should be at least twice a week - with the option for patients to be like yo, let’s cut it back. But we, as the client should be saying that and choosing to opt out - it should not be the other way around.

 

 

  1. And finally, Brightside. 

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    1. This is the first Business to Consumer platform I’ve seen which is really trying to tackle mental health in a holistic way.

 

  • PROS of this platform

      • Again, it’s remote. (So same pro and con as above.)

      • For $95/month, you can receive psychiatry, therapy, and medication shipped to your door. This is Brightside’s attempt at filling the gap for people who don’t have sufficient access to mental health care services with their health care plan

      • They have CBT learning on their site. There are cards that educate and prompt you to fill them in - this is an awesome first step toward educating the patient on ways they can improve their mental health by changing their thought patterns and habits. Yes medication is important but so is the way we take care and think about ourselves — which is something that is less discussed/educated on when we seek treatment.

      • They talk about nutrition!!! OMG. It’s pretty incredible to me that this is not something that is talked about at alllll in mental health when you are receiving treatment. 

 

  • (Side note - this reminds me, if you are on Lexapro, apparently you shouldn’t have grapefruit. So no grapefruit and mezcal, people! This is so random but it counteracts the medication and this is something I just learned in a psychiatry session which I never would have known if the doctor had not randomly mentioned it to me. Wild.)

  •  

      • And they’re open to feedback. Because it’s a startup, they are super open to feedback and improving the platform and that is clear as well when you speak with the doctors. Clap

 

  • CONS of this platform

      • Again - same general complaint for all these platforms but why the F are therapists and psychiatrists not speaking with one another? It honestly makes me wonder if there’s going to be a shift toward therapists who can prescribe medication and I supposed that’s what Functional Medicine is trying to do but yeah… 

 

  • It seems to me that you should discuss physical, mental, and emotional symptoms and then get medicine + CBT/other tools to improve your condition. All together.

  •  

      • Feels a bit lonely between sessions. Hah. I mean honestly though if you’re going through a tough time and not receiving more personalized feedback, I think there’s an opportunity for growth right there. But again - this is an early stage startup so this could be on the way. ;)

 

And finally.

 

  1. Talk therapy in person! 

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    1. This is something that I have also tried out and I’m torn because yes I do think there is value to sitting down and getting each other’s vibe IRL but at the same time, with the current climate of traveling becoming more the norm for our jobs/life, it seems like a combo of having the option to do remote and in person is the best move.

 

As someone who has really tried all these out, I would recommend going with something like Brightside or Ginger which has the psychiatrist, therapist, and medication all in one package. I think that’s the move since simply tackling and improving one’s mental health is already a challenge, getting treatment in a more holistic package seems to be the less complicated option.  

Key Concepts

Stress, Immune Health, Alternative Therapy

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