Therapy Is Critical to America’s Pandemic Recovery Effort

More than 52 million American adults reported mental health issues in 2019, and that number has only increased since the outbreak of COVID-19. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that one in four adults reported experiencing symptoms of an anxiety or depressive disorder in February 2021—a significant increase from the prior year. Youth mental health is also worsening, with nearly 10% of American youth reporting severe depression. This is a public health crisis. Here’s why therapy is the key to recovery.

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The Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health

The pandemic has been stressful for everyone, and people across the country are emotionally exhausted. Impacting nearly every corner of the globe, it has put us in a unique position—for the first time in a long time, we’re all in the same boat.

In 2020, just a few months after the nation was in quarantine, conversations about the effects on mental health began. People of all age groups reported increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and loneliness. 

Today, more than one year later, the pandemic is still ongoing and could be for some time. The number of people seeking mental health services has surged, as has the demand for online therapy platforms. 

Why Therapy Is Needed Now More Than Ever

The value and importance of therapy did not go away during the pandemic. The mental and emotional fallout from the pandemic is likely to play out over years or even decades. People need mental health guidance and support now more than ever. As a therapist, you can help people when they need it most. 

Therapy allows people to process their feelings about the past year and half and what’s to come. There are many reasons therapy is key to America’s pandemic recovery. 

  • Therapy can help patients confront issues they’ve been putting off – Before the pandemic, your clients were struggling with mental health, dealing with relationship troubles, and fighting other obstacles. None of these issues went away when COVID hit. If anything, the fact that clients lost distractions such as nights out or going to the gym means they finally came face to face with any issues they had been putting off. Therapy during the pandemic is giving clients the opportunity to deal with those issues.
  • Therapy promotes resilience – Resilience is one of the most important tools you can help clients develop. The pandemic offers an opportunity to teach your clients resilience strategies that will help them adapt and bounce back when they face challenges. Resiliency is a muscle that will help clients return to feeling normal again more quickly after a crisis or painful experience – therapy is resilience training. 
  • Therapy helps clients process difficult emotions – Emotions have been amplified during the pandemic – grief, fear, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, anger. These heightened feelings can be confusing for patients to sort through. Therapy helps clients process and make sense of it all. It also gives patients a safe space to understand what they are going through and an opportunity to find balance.
  • Therapy helps clients re-discover their strength – Many people have lost sight of their strength over the past year and a half. Their problems can feel too big to handle and overwhelm them. Therapy helps clients find themselves again, reminding them of their strength and giving them tools to access that strength in difficult times.
  • Therapy helps clients find strategies that work – Therapy gives patients proven strategies that are effective in managing mental health struggles. Therapists work with their clients to personalize these strategies to their individual needs built around their specific strengths. 

Therapy Supports Those Who Need It Most

Children, first responders and health care workers, women, and BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) individuals are especially vulnerable groups who can benefit from therapy right now. 

Children and Adolescents

School closures, social distancing, and stay-at-home orders have exacted a considerable toll on American youth’s emotional and mental health. As a result, young people – particularly LGBTQ youth and children of color – are especially vulnerable to pandemic-related mental health consequences, such as anxiety and depression.

Even before the pandemic, there had been a rise in mental health issues among adolescents, including persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness or suicidal thoughts. These youth have experienced an uptick in anxiety and depression due to these challenging times. Therapy can help children navigate their emotions while equipping them with helpful tools to combat increased feelings of anxiety and depression.

First Responders and Health Care Workers

America’s first responders and health care workers have been working longer hours and extra shifts since the beginning of the pandemic. Pandemic-related stressors such as loss of life, safety fears, supply shortages, long hours, and isolation have taken a toll on the mental wellbeing of health care workers.

Therapy encourages health care workers to engage in self-care and provides them with coping strategies that they can use during this difficult time.


Women and mothers have disproportionately carried the burden of childcare and caregiving for older adults during the pandemic. Quarantine heightened normal strains and brought new worries to the forefront. As a result, women are facing more stress and anxiety than normal. Therapy can help women from all walks take steps to help reduce stress and make their lives feel more manageable.

BIPOC People

BIPOC communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, and the increase in mental health disorders in those communities has been even worse. And the pandemic further brought to light the racial disparities for BIPOC communities, ranging from higher rates of COVID-19 infections and mortality to police violence and systemic racism. Therapy provides a resource to help BIPOC people heal from racial trauma and overcome other stressors brought on by the pandemic. 

Long-Term Impacts on Mental Health

The pandemic has shaped more than a year and a half of our lives such as cancelling plans, upending livelihoods, and causing feelings of grief and anxiety. And the mental health crisis from the pandemic will likely continue over the next several years. Loneliness, fear, reduced access to services, and economic instability have had profoundly adverse effects on people’s lives.

More people than ever before are utilizing mental health services. And forecasts suggest that more people will need new or additional mental health support in the coming years. Mental health providers are already struggling to cope with the vast numbers of people currently seeking out help. If more people become increasingly unwell beyond the pandemic, the load might be more than therapists can take on. 

Improving access to care via technology, such as teletherapy, is one way to combat the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on mental health. One study found that sessions delivered in-person and via videoconferencing produced similar outcomes in patients. This suggests that teletherapy could be here to stay. 

Therapists have been essential workers throughout the pandemic. Not only is therapy critical to America’s pandemic recovery effort, but you are as well. Over the last year and a half, you have helped people in your community stay afloat during one of the challenging crises of modern times. The pandemic may not be over, but your work as a therapist has been and will continue to save lives. 

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