Illustrations by Hannah Good
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The pandemic isn’t over, but the burnout, trauma and grief may be starting to catch up with us. Actually, a sense of “catching our breath” may be why we’re feeling it now, says The Lily columnist Andrea Bonior. Demand for therapy has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic, and experts have long predicted a mental health crisis is looming.
If all this feels overwhelming, you are not alone. More than 4 in 10 adults in the United States reported recent symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic, and more people reported unmet mental health needs, And the people affected most are younger adults, people of color, essential workers and unpaid caregivers — often the people with the least access to care. For Mental Health Awareness Month, we rounded up some of our most helpful therapy coverage to answer your questions and hopefully make seeking care a bit less daunting.
If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.
Early in the pandemic, psychologist Jelena Kecmanovic rounded up answers to the most commonly asked questions about therapy in a perspective piece for The Washington Post. She writes that if you have tried stress-relief measures “but your anxiety, sadness or anger remain so high they affect important parts of your life,” it may be time to seek help.
If you have insurance, Medicare or Medicaid:
• You can contact your provider to find in-network providers or go to Psychology Today’s Find a Therapist website and filter by your insurance type.
• Ask each potential therapist if you could have a free consultation to assess whether there is a good fit. Ask how they approach their work and what the therapy process might look like,
If not, here are her tips:
• Look for training clinics at doctoral clinical psychology programs
• Private group practices with externs, who are trainees in doctoral clinical psychology programs, supervised by licensed psychologists.
• Local community mental-health centers, often tied to counties, which treat people regardless of their ability to pay.
• Open Path Collective, a national nonprofit network of therapists who provide sessions at a very reduced rate.
• Project Parachute, which uses telehealth to match pro bono therapists with front-line health-care workers affected by covid-19.
• Give an Hour, which serves military families and victims of natural or man-made traumas. It also has a special program in D.C. that covers more issues.
• Actress Taraji P. Henson’s Boris L. Henson Foundation, which offers free youth and young adult therapy groups.
• NY COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline, which is only for residents of New York. You can make a free phone appointment at 844-863-9314.
Free hotlines, which can also help connect you to therapeutic care.
• Department of Health and Human Services National Helpline: 800-662-4357
• Integral Care (15 languages): 512-472-HELP (4357)
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
• Crisis Text Line: text HOME to 741-741
Mental health professionals in the United States are overwhelmingly White. That can make it hard for women of color to find a therapist who gets them, Ingrid Cruz reported in January for The Lily.
Here are some resources she rounded up to check out:
• The Loveland Foundation. Founded by activist Rachel Cargle, this organization focuses on helping Black women and girls have better and equitable access to therapy. The organization runs a therapy fund and works with partners to ensure that recipients can afford therapy sessions.
• Therapy for Black Girls. Founded by therapist Joy Harden Bradford, this community offers a directory, podcast and blog that focuses on ensuring Black women and girls have access to mental health services.
• Latinx Therapy. This therapist directory offers a podcast, courses and information for professionals in the field of psychotherapy, plus a list of wellness resources.
• National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. This organization is dedicated to helping queer and transgender patients of color find therapy that is rooted in social justice, healing and care.
• Therapy in Color. This directory contains a list of clinicians and counselors committed to addressing mental health in Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.
• Psychology Today Directory. This allows you to filter psychologists by race and gender.
• Therapists of Color. For therapists of color in the Bay Area, this group has monthly meetings and discusses best practices in therapy.
Baby boomers are less likely to seek mental health services than Gen Zers and millennials, reported Mikala Jamison in April for The Lily. Clinical psychologist Suzan Ahmed said this divide can be especially pronounced in immigrants and people of color, who may associate therapy with stigma and shame. Talking about the therapy experience is one way to “normalize” it, she advised. But it’s important to remember that some parents might continue to resist going to therapy. Licensed counselor Sarah Noel said children shouldn’t see that as a failure: “It’s really just about saying: ‘I tried, I did the best I could. This is affecting me, this isn’t about me,’ ” Noel said.
More pregnant and postpartum women are disclosing symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, according to a recent survey. But social support is still possible, wrote perinatal psychologist Juli Fraga in a perspective piece for The Lily.
Here are some resources she suggests:
• Mom mentors who have recovered from postpartum depression or anxiety can offer encouragement and guidance to struggling new moms.
• Psychologist Suniya Luthar and her colleagues offer online groups to provide a nurturing community for mothers.
• On Facebook, private groups like “Moms Mentoring Other Moms” and “Moms Supporting Moms” can be useful for parents who want group mentoring from seasoned mothers.
• The Moms Mentoring Circle offers a menu of options such as one-on-one coaching and group coaching.
• Postpartum Support International provides free, virtual support groups specifically for South Asian parents, dads and non-birth partners, NICU parents and military moms.
• Perinatal psychiatrist and assistant professor at George Washington University Pooja Lakshmin offers a free “COVID-19 Maternal Well-Being” group on Facebook.
• The Sad Girls Club on Instagram, founded by mental health advocate Elyse Fox, is a safe space where Black mothers and people of color can discuss their mental health struggles and support one another.
• The Motherhood Center in New York offers affordable, virtual groups for women diagnosed with prenatal or postpartum depression, as well as a group for bereaved parents.
• Psychology Today offers a database of therapy groups.
Exposure therapy might help, clinical psychologist Ilyse Dobrow DiMarco wrote for The Washington Post in April. Her “rules of exposure” include making a ranked list, creating a specific plan to reintroduce yourself to those things, being mindful of your anxiety/dread, and setting clear expectations with relatives and friends.