People turn to apps, telemedicine during coronavirus outbreak


Fears and worries are running high as the United States tries to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Telemedicine and meditation apps are becoming a popular way to cope with the coronavirus as well as manage other mental health conditions.

The novel coronavirus outbreak is causing a lot of stress and anxiety nationwide. “People are concerned about going out, they’re concerned about going to stores, doctor’s offices, therapist offices,” says Neil Leibowitz, chief medical officer of Talkspace. The app provides psychiatric care and therapy through video-based appointments and text messaging.

Apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp are seeing big increases in people accessing their sites for care. “Their anxiety is really at an elevated and heightened peak, so telehealth really can serve and help mitigate this problem by opening access, making therapists available to clients in their time of need from the comfort and convenience of their home,” Leibowitz says. He says clients are fearful about getting the coronavirus and protecting their families. Financial anxiety is also weighing very heavily on them.

Mindfulness and meditation can also help at this stressful time. The popular app Headspace says it’s providing free subscriptions to healthcare workers for the rest of the year to help them cope with rising stress levels and burnout. Experts say supporting yourself is even more important now than ever. They suggest making time to unwind and doing activities you enjoy.

“Prior to this, America was really going through a mental health crisis. Anxiety has been at an all-time high, depression has been at an all-time high, suicide rates are up. When you super impose this pandemic, it increases and elevates the fear even more. So people really need to take self- care,” Leibowitz says.

Eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep is also key. And if you find that the stress from all of this is getting in the way of your daily activities for several days, call your healthcare provider.

While many online therapy apps charge for services, you can check with your human resources department or insurance company to see if they cover telemedicine mental health services.

Trending Stories

Interactive: Coronavirus Timeline