Finding the right mental health resource is like trying new foods; sometimes it can be absolutely mind-blowing and life changing. But sometimes, it just isn’t for you and that is ok. What’s important is that there are many options, and you can find the one that's best for you. In 2019, the National Institute of Mental Health recorded that out of an estimated 51.5 million adults with AMI (any mental illness), 23 million (44.8%) adults received health services. Although this statistic was only calculated with adults diagnosed with AMI, there are over millions of people who have these mental health resources available but don’t know which resource is best suited for them. Whether you’re looking for social support, an outlet for stress and anxiety, here are a few affordable options.
When it comes to mental health resources, there are a multitude of resources available for those of all age groups. Some include:
College students are among the most at-risk population for mental health needs. Most students usually only think of a handful of mental health resources available (typically the college wellness center or on-campus counseling). In a college-based study, researchers looked into the utilization and appeal of on-campus mental health resources to students with specific mental health conditions.
Over 20,000 college students participated in this longitudinal study. Researchers measured anxiety, depression, and antisocial behaviors. They followed up on the students every spring to see their before-after mental health symptoms, such as feeling fearful or spells of terror or panic. After finishing the symptoms checklist, students were also asked in a separate column about the student’s knowledge of college mental health services. (Bourdon et al., 2020)
Researchers found a significant correlation between the specific mental health conditions and the type of mental health service that was being provided. For example,
Just from this study alone, it is clear that mental health resources are not “one -size-fits-all.” Although it is important to utilize the mental health resources available, it is even more substantial for companies and schools to offer a variety of resources so that people can find the one that best suits them and their symptoms. It is typical for people to use mental health resources that they hear from friends or on the news, but these resources may not be the one for them. Hearing about a bad experience can even discourage them from trying it for themselves, even though so much of the experience has to do with personal fit.
Let’s say the university wellness center is not available since you are out of college. What other resources are there? One affordable resource is on your bookshelf right now. A recent study found that recreational reading (free reading) was associated with reductions in psychological distress. Students who participated in this study were asked to create an initial goal of how many books they were going to read through the whole school year. They could read any book they wanted as long as they were reading.
At the end of the school year, they were asked how many books they read in total. They found that with college students' baseline psychological stress level at .647, with every book that a college student read during their free time, their stress level would go down by .017 (Levine et al., 2020). That may not seem a lot, but this directly correlates to the reduction of psychological distress. Just reading 5 minutes a day can lead to an improvement in stress and anxiety levels. Not only does this apply to college students, but also to adults as well. Recreational reading can be anything.
Through the years, there has been an ongoing struggle to make mental health resources more affordable for all. Thanks to technological advances, there has been a positive trend toward online mental health resources such as mobile apps. The government and W.H.O have even pushed for digital healthcare services due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These options include virtual meetings/calls, internet resources, and mobile apps.
There have been concerns about whether apps are evidence-based/certified. According to research, over the last two decades, e-mental health programs have been found to be effective for both children and adults in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms (Marshall et al., 2020). What studies did show was that mobile mental health applications should at least have “empirical evidence of efficacy for the targeted problem” (Wang et al., 2020). In a study of 28 popular mental health apps, researchers found that only five apps have an evidence-based background. So it is crucial to find apps that cite relevant sources.
Mental health education apps such as LIFE Intelligence provide both the benefit of recreational reading and science-backed evidence. The app gives snippet reading on over 100 self development topics, for portable reading and reflection. And, all of its contents are backed by scientific studies, cited in-app. This lends a credibility and curriculum-based approach that other applications lack.
Why are mental health resources becoming the norm these days? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about incredible stress, uncertainty, grief, and frustration to many across the globe. Services that were available before, such as in-person therapy or counseling, have been shut down. Those who were regularly using mental health services may have been laid off, and are now lacking help right when they need it the most.
In a recent survey, 27% of parents reported that their mental health was deteriorating drastically. 14% reported that their children’s behavioral health was worsening (Henkhaus et al, 2020). Healthcare workers have developed an urgent need for mental health resources as their days are overwhelmed with difficult decision making, post-traumatic stress and extreme risk to COVID-19. (Yang et al., 2020)
Without an external stimulus to find a mental health resource, many people struggle without even thinking to seek help. Our society has started to consider stress and anxiety part of our daily lives. But there's an easier way to live. As this article shows, even the smallest changes, such as picking up a book or app, can truly benefit daily activity, mood and emotions.
Levin, M. E., Navarro, C., Cruz, R. A., & Haeger, J. (2019) Comparing in-the-moment skill coaching effects from tailored versus non-tailored acceptance and commitment therapy mobile apps in a non-clinical sample, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, 48:3, 200-216. https://doi.org/10.1080/16506073.2018.1503706
Bourdon, J. L., Moore, A. A., Long, E. C., Kendler, K. S., & Dick, D. M. (2020). The relationship between on-campus service utilization and common mental health concerns in undergraduate college students. Psychological Services, 17(1), 118–126. https://doi.org/10.1037/ser0000296
Marshall, J. M., Dunstan, D. A., Bartik, W. (2020). Clinical or gimmickal: The use and effectiveness of mobile mental health apps for treating anxiety and depression. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 54(1), 20-28. https://doi.org/10.1177/0004867419876700
Yang L, Yin J, Wang D, Rahman A, Li X (2020). Urgent need to develop evidence-based self-help interventions for mental health of healthcare workers in COVID19 pandemic. Psychological Medicine, 1–2. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291720001385
Wang, L., Fagan, C., & Yu. C. L. (2020). Popular Mental Health Apps (MH Apps) as a Complement to Telepsychotherapy: Guidelines for Consideration. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 30(2), 265-273. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/int0000204
Levine, S. L., Cherrier, S., Holding, A. C., & Koestner, R. (2020). For the love of reading: Recreational reading reduces psychological distress in college students and autonomous motivation is the key. Journal of American College Health, 1-7. https://doi.org/10.1080/07448481.2020.1728280
Patrick, S. W., Henkhaus, L. E., Zickafoose, J. S., Lovell, K., Halvorson, A., Loch, S., Letterie, M., Davis, M. M. (2020). Well-being of Parents and Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A National Survey. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-016824