Mental health care in Colorado has gone virtual thanks to coronavirus. For some patients, it’s long overdue.
March 30, 2020
By: Jennifer Brown
Community mental health clinics are still open during the pandemic, but therapists are meeting with clients in privacy-protected online sessions.
eby Williamson used to take note of her clients’ body language and the vibe that filled the room when they came to see her for mental health therapy. That’s not happening now, since she meets them via computer.
Williamson, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Colorado Springs, is one of thousands of mental health professionals in Colorado who have switched to telemental health in the current age of isolation because of the new coronavirus. “When they are in the office, I can feel, gut-feeling how they are doing,” she said. “I don’t get all that now. I’m not used to it and neither are they.”
Williamson’s practice, called Safe Haven in the Springs, has moved entirely online in the past two weeks. While crisis walk-in mental health centers and mobile response teams across Colorado remain open during the coronavirus pandemic, most clinical therapy sessions have gone virtual.
The switch comes as the fear of catching the virus and the loneliness of isolation are amplifying anxiety and depression in people who already were seeking treatment, and triggering those issues in many who had not experienced — or addressed — them before.
While therapists say virtual sessions don’t provide the same level of human connection, they do have other benefits, including making it easier for clients to get to their appointments and allowing people with certain conditions — such as agoraphobia, the fear of going outside — ease into therapy from home.