Approximately one in every three people in South Africa suffer from a mental health disorder and up to 90% of these individuals do not get treatment. Although part of the reason that people do not get care may be due to stigma or not knowing they need help, the majority of those who need help and do not get it are those who have no health insurance and cannot afford therapy in any form. In fact, 450 million people globally have mental disorders and only a small percentage of those ever receive any kind of treatment.
A New Mental Health Plan
With such a large gap in mental health care, the World Health Organization (WHO) has developed a new mental health plan for certain countries, including many of those in Africa that are affected by this gap. The plan has new laws to update mental health care policies, which will include helping with mental health care insurance and getting treatment to those who need it. This plan also has integrated new laws that will prevent discrimination and human rights violations of those with a mental health disorder.
There were some important recommendations for helping close the treatment gap from the first WHO meeting in 2001, which included:
- More support for research
- Monitoring mental health systems
- Linking with other institutions to get more help
- Better training for mental health professionals
- A universal mental health plan should be established
- Individuals and communities need to be involved in forming groups and health plans
- More education should be provided to the public about mental health
- Mental health medications should be made available across the globe
- Mental health care should be provided in all primary care insurance plans
However, most of these recommendations have still not been addressed. That is why the WHO has implemented another mental health plan and is this time asking for a universal agreement and contract. One of the most beneficial ways that people who need help can get it is to lower the cost of mental health care and the easiest way to do this is to lower the costs for the mental health care professionals.
Online Therapy is Less Expensive
With online therapy, the expenses are much less for the mental health professional. They do not have to spend the money to buy or rent an office or the staff and utilities to run the office. In addition, therapists are able to help more clients per day because they are no longer having to split their appointments up in one-hour session. In other words, rather than only being able to talk to seven clients per day, an online therapist can help as many as they want to because they do it on their own time, with no appointment needed. And since the therapist is saving money, they can pass that savings on to their clients.
Reaching More People
Online therapy can also help close that gap by reaching more people than traditional therapy can reach. Some people who live in rural areas just have no way to get to an office so being able to talk to their therapist online from home can be perfect for them. It is also great for those who are embarrassed or afraid to have people know that they are getting mental health treatment. Stigma is still an issue all over the globe and with online therapy you are able to stay completely anonymous. Your therapist will not even need to know your name and they cannot see what you look like unless you want them to with teleconferencing. No appointment needed and you can do it all from home.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.