More Coloradans turning to ‘virtual therapy’ as COVID-19 pandemic worsens

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DENVER (KDVR) — Denver-area mental health providers are starting to see a spike in the number of new patients seeking virtual therapy.

As the weather gets colder and COVID numbers continue to climb in Colorado, tele-therapy has become a popular resource for many.

In the metro-area, mental health providers said over the Summer, therapy sessions were split 50/50 (half in-person and have online). But lately, providers say more and more people are opting for their sessions virtually.

“As the weather colder and as our numbers start to spike I’m seeing again an increased number in our virtual visits again,” said Dr. Kristin Orlowski, a psychologist at UCHealth Family Medicine in Littleton.

Orlowski, like many other doctors in our state, is concerned about the mental health of all Coloradans.

After all, ‘pandemic depression’ is about to collide with ‘seasonal depression’.

“We’re seeing whole populations come in right now to seek support because this has been a really difficult year,” Orlowski said.

According to the American Psychological Association, 78% of adults say the pandemic has become a significant source of stress in their lives. That same survey also found 62% of us feel more anxious than we did this time last year.

Prior to the pandemic, about 1 in 5 people suffered from some sort of mental health condition.

“Since the pandemic, there are estimates that depression symptoms are about 3x what existed prior to the pandemic. So now more than ever access to care is absolutely critical to the health and wellness of Coloradans,” said Elicia Bunch, Vice President of Behavioral Health at UCHealth.

UCHealth has made a big investment into mental health awareness and assistance over the last year.

During the pandemic, a major part of its behavioral health focus to tele-therapy online.

A recent survey of more than 2,000 clinicians from the American Psychological Association found 76% of them are now solely providing virtual services.

Experts offer this advice when seeking out online mental healthcare:

“I always feel like getting a referral from a trusted source is the best option. Because they have a little bit of background, someone has endorsed that person as being effective in one way or another,” Orlowski said.

Orlowski also suggests going to your primary care provider.

(The National Suicide Hotline can be reached at: 800-273-8255)

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