You can’t avoid stress in your daily life but you can manage it. Don’t ignore stress as stress can lead to major health problems and it affects your health mentally and physically. It can lead to mental health problems such as depression or anxiety and physical health problems such as acne, hair loss, fluctuations in weight and life-threatening heart attacks.
Create a list of positive ways to manage stress to keep your stress levels in check and low. Here we have listed 5 things that you can do.
Taking care of your health helps you both mentally and physically. Focus on healthy habits such as healthy diet, exercise 3-4 times a week and go for body check-up annually. The best way to reclaim control of your life is by taking charge of your health.
Start with a small positive change. It can be as simple as cleaning up your work desk or your bedroom, step away from your work desk for 5 minutes and take a walk or take 5 minutes to do simple exercises at your work desk or simply go for a short vacation. A small positive change can make a difference to the stressors in your life.
Meditation or yoga may be used to reduce stress, anxiety, depression and tension as both practices promote relaxation and calmness. It requires you to focus to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state.
Volunteer to help others take your mind off the stress in your life and you’ll cultivate an attitude of gratitude as you help others who are not able to get help for themselves. You’ll also feel happy and relieved to be able to help people or animals in need and you’re actually making a positive difference to their lives.
Below is a summary of how e-counseling is comparable to traditional face-to-face counseling sourced from an extensive study done by Berkeley Well-Being Institute and its references. Read more on the full study here.
Study 2 was conducted to examine user satisfaction with e-counseling. Read on the summary of Study 1 on changes in depression symptom severity amongst BetterHelp members from pre-treatment to 3-months post-treatment here.
Given the potential accessibility, affordability, and effectiveness of e-counseling, Berkeley conducted a second study to gain insight on user experience with BetterHelp e-counseling. The present investigation reports findings from a survey that asked current members of BetterHelp to report their experiences with both e-counseling and face-to-face counseling. More specifically, it assessed whether BetterHelp e-counseling differs from face-to-face counselling with regard to:
9) Meeting needs
10) Therapeutic alliance
48 participants (88% female)
Age: 22 – 65 years old
These participants responded to an account notification from BetterHelp inviting them to complete a survey post participation
Used BetterHelp for 3 months or more
To answer a series of questions with regard to their experiences on BetterHelp and also if they have been in face-to-face counseling
A subset of 38 participants (79%) had also been in face-to-face counseling and was asked the same series of questions regarding their experiences with face-to-face counselling
1) Therapeutic Alliance
The quality of the therapeutic relationship was assessed using the Working Alliance Inventory (WAI) –short form (Munder, 2010). Questions were phrased to assess alliance with BetterHelp counsellors or alliance with face-to-face counselors. The WAI has been shown to have good reliability and validity (α BetterHelp = .94; α face-to-face = .97 in the present sample).
2) Satisfaction with Counselling
To measure satisfaction with counseling, items were developed assessing a range of factors that tend to affect satisfaction with counselling (see Table 2 for questions).
Comparing BetterHelp to face-to-face counseling
To directly assess whether participants preferred BetterHelp when they compared BetterHelp to their experiences with face-to-face counseling.
1) Therapeutic alliance
Using within group t-tests, ratings of therapeutic alliance were significantly greater for BetterHelp than face-to-face counseling.
Descriptive statistics are used to clarify the percentage of people who were satisfied with each dimension of counseling for both BetterHelp and face-to-face counseling (see Figure 3). The results suggest greater satisfaction with BetterHelp e-counseling than face-to-face counseling. All analyses supported BetterHelp as being more satisfying than face-to-face therapy. In particular,
BetterHelp was found to be significantly more convenient, affordable, and accessible than face-to-face therapy.
Results for satisfaction with BetterHelp and satisfaction with face-to-face counseling shows that clients of BetterHelp are more satisfied with e-counseling than face-to-face counseling (see Figure 4).
Finally, when asked how likely one would be to recommend BetterHelp to a friend or colleague on a scale from 0 (Not at all likely) to 10 (Extremely likely), participants reported scores ranging from 5 to 10.
Comparing e-counseling to face-to-face counseling
Descriptive statistics were used to directly assess whether people found experiences with BetterHelp to be better or worse than experiences with face-to-face counseling.
First, Berkeley assessed whether people would choose BetterHelp (e-counseling) or face-to-face counseling in the future (see Figure 5). Next, Berkeley assessed how participants compared BetterHelp to face-to-face counseling on each of the dimensions of satisfaction. The strongest effects suggest that BetterHelp members find BetterHelp to be more convenient and accessible than face-to-face therapy, and all analyses supported BetterHelp as being more satisfying than face-to-face counseling (see Figure 6).
E-counseling appears to address a number of significant barriers (i.e. convenience, affordability, and accessibility) that sometimes prevent face-to-face counseling from being effective. Notably, the present data further suggest that therapeutic alliance for BetterHelp e-counseling may be even stronger than face-to-face counseling.
While there are many reasons as to why this may be the case, Berkeley postulate that these strong alliances are formed when using BetterHelp as a result of BetterHelp counselors’ flexible availability. Face-to-face counseling is often limited to a pre-determined number of sessions (as defined by insurance companies or by financial capabilities).
Research has shown that the national average number of counseling sessions available to an individual is less than 5, despite knowledge that between 8-13 sessions are needed to see improvement (Hansen et al., 2002). BetterHelp counselors are able to quickly respond to members’ needs, with an average response time of 10.6 hours, and have more frequent interaction with members as compared to a face-to-face therapist, with BetterHelp members receiving an average of 3.7 sessions over the course of a week.
This study, like most survey studies, may have been affected by sampling bias. Only participants who were already using BetterHelp for 3 months were included in analyses. Because individuals who terminated treatment before 3 months were not included in pre/post analyses, results exclude those who may not have found BetterHelp beneficial and sought other forms of therapy in that time. It was essential for Berkeley to focus on this group to ensure that all participants were familiar with, and had the time to benefit from, the service; however, this approach may have led to a bias towards including people in the study who favoured BetterHelp e-counseling.
That being said, we should not discount the positive impacts that BetterHelp had on the members who chose to opt in. No intervention approach will work for everyone. Given the affordability and accessibility of Betterhelp e-counseling, Berkeley’s findings suggest that Betterhelp e-counseling represents an opportunity to have a bigger impact, across a larger number of people, for a reduced cost.
An extensive study was done on how e-counseling is a viable alternative to traditional face-to-face counseling based on BetterHelp’s e-counseling platform. BetterHelp is the largest e-counseling platform worldwide and offers convenient and affordable access to professional counsellors for anyone who struggles with life’s challenges to get help anytime and anywhere.
Below is a summary of how e-counseling is comparable to traditional face-to-face counseling sourced from an extensive study done by Berkeley Well-Being Institute and its references. Read more on the full study here.
Research studies show that counseling is even more effective at improving mental health than other treatments, such as medication. While research has demonstrated the many benefits of counseling, access to counseling is still one of the largest barriers to getting this type of help, and the majority of research has only assessed the benefits of counseling delivered face-to-face. Telemental health, or the use of technology to provide long-distance counseling, is a field that is rapidly growing in response to this demonstrated and very urgent need.
Why people don’t seek for help?
Stigma surrounding seeking mental well-being support and lack of affordable care
Limited geographical access to trained professionals
Shortage of mental health professionals especially in rural areas
Benefits of e-counseling based on studies
People feel more comfortable, calm and relaxed during sessions and experience enhanced user satisfaction
People in need of counseling are more likely to seek out for help when e-counseling is provided as an option
Increased patient empowerment (i.e. maximizes flexibility of location of therapy as well as flexibility in scheduling therapy)
Increased clinical efficacy (i.e. allows therapists to see clients in less time)
To examine the benefits of e-counseling, changes in depression symptom severity amongst BetterHelp members from pre-treatment to 3-months post-treatment were examined in Study 1 and user satisfaction was examined in Study 2.
Counselors at BetterHelp are licensed, trained, experienced, and accredited professionals. BetterHelp members are able to choose from text, video, live chat, and phone counseling.
318 BetterHelp members (78% female)
Age: 19 to 72 years old
Pre-treatment levels of depression fell in mild, moderate, moderately severe, or severe ranges based on the PHQ-9 Scoring and Interpretation Guide (UMHS Depression Guideline)
Minimal levels of depression were not included
Used BetterHelp for between 90 and 104 days (3 months, plus two weeks) to ensure adequate time for treatment to take effect
Before members being e-counseling with BetterHelp (Time 1, or baseline), members were asked to complete the PHQ-9, probing current levels of depression. Between 90 and 104 days later (Time 2, or 3-month follow-up), participants were asked to again complete the same questionnaire.
At Time 1, 37% of the final sample presented with mild symptoms, 29% presented with moderate symptoms, 24% presented with moderately severe symptoms, and 10% presented with severe symptoms. Figure 1 displays depression symptom category at baseline based on the PHQ-9 Scoring and Interpretation Guide.
The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) is a validated brief self-report measure frequently used in clinical practice to monitor depression symptoms and severity which was used to assess severity of depression symptoms among participants at baseline and follow-up
PHQ-9 is a 10-item measure which asks a series of questions regarding how often, in the past 2 weeks, patients have been bothered by specific problems.
PHQ-9 is scored on a 4-Point Likert scale ranging from “0 – Not At All” to “3 – Nearly Every Day”
Within-group t-tests – also known as paired samples t-tests – control for correlations between data sets and as such are the best choice when seeking to detect change between pre- and post-tests. Participants were split into four groups before analysis, based on severity of symptoms before treatment (these groups being mild, moderate, moderately severe, or severe).
Depression symptom severity was found to be significantly lower at Time 2 than at Time 1 across all four groups. Results showed that the largest improvement post-treatment was seen in participants who had the highest scores pre-treatment. In other words, using BetterHelp for 3 months (or more) significantly lowered members’ depression symptoms, and members with the most severe levels of depression before using BetterHelp experienced the most improvement in their depression after use.
36% of members classified as having “Mild Depression” before using BetterHelp changed to the “Minimal Depression” classification level after use. 65% of members classified as having “Moderate Depression” were classified as having only “Mild or Minimal Depression” after using BetterHelp, and 67% of members classified as having “Moderately Severe Depression” were classified as having moderate, mild, or minimal levels after use.
Most impressive, 78% of members classified as having “Severe Depression” before using BetterHelp were no longer classified as having “Severe Depression” after use, with 15% of these individuals now being classified as having only “Mild Depression”, all within three months of use.
If you’re going through a stage in life where you can’t function well or feel good, professional help can make a difference. Always know that you’re not alone when you’re facing difficulties or problems in life. Four out of ten Malaysians suffer from mental health issue in the course of their lives and psychologists believe that the number will continue to rise. Even if you’re not sure if you’d benefit from help, it won’t hurt to explore the possibility.
Here, we speak to Dr Khairi Rahman from Pantai Hospital on how one can seek help from a professional regarding mental health and what you can do to manage your mental health on a day-to-day basis.
1) What are the signs that a person needs the help of a mental health professional? After all, we all feel unhappy, anxious or depressed sometimes.
It is fairly normal for most of us to feel unhappy, anxious or depressed sometimes.
Nevertheless, much of those experiences should be temporary in nature and are often associated with certain causal or definitive factors. Once those causal factors have been identified and addressed appropriately, this temporary negative mental state of health would fade away.
However, this may not be the case with prolonged unhappiness or being in a depressed state where there are no apparent reasons or external factors causing one to be in such a state of mind.
Common signs and symptoms requiring the help of a mental health professional include heightened irrational behaviours (such as increased drinking or smoking or sleeping a lot more than the usual), inability to focus well at work or even carrying out simple tasks, crying episodes for no apparent reasons, prolonged loss of appetite, avoiding or shying away from friends and others, and very commonly, not having pleasure doing things that they used to love to do before.
2) If you determine that you need professional help – should you choose a counsellor, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist?
Help can come from many different mental health professionals depending on the background of the case.
A psychiatrist would the most appropriate when the person requires medication or medical intervention. Most cases that falls under the scope of mental illness benefit from psychiatric intervention.
Majority of the other mental health cases may benefit with the help of psychologists, therapists, counsellors or even experienced pastors. Again, these are fairly dependent on the nature and background of the cases.
3) Are there affordable ways to help oneself manage your mental health without going to a professional, such as talking to good friends, reading self-help books, taking a break, travelling and going for meditation?
The affordable ways mentioned above (including regular workouts) are some of the recommended homework or assignments normally given by most mental health professionals. It is very important to note that it’s best to have your own therapist when you want to deal with something that’s temporarily in your way.
Dealing with critical situations which affects your mental health (stress and anxieties are of one the common ones) would need a lot of cognitive and behavioral changes and decision making. This is exactly where the challenge is for many of us out there, and your therapist should be able to help you rationalize matters and assist you with various therapy techniques and appropriate counseling interventions.
4) It is said that prevention is better than cure. When it comes to physical health, we have been advised to have adequate sleep, exercise regularly and eat healthfully. When it comes to our mental health, what can we do on a day-to-day basis then?
This remains very subjective as there are many levels of tolerance, stress and anxieties. For example, working and earning a decent income may be a normal and healthy life to some people but it may not be comparable to another person who’s thinking or working hard to provide food and shelter for his family on a daily basis.
Hence, taking control of situations would certainly make a person well and proven. Try to be in control and understand your strengths and weaknesses to know how it’s best to deal with situations. This may make you or even change you to be a different person in perspective.
Another way one can deal with situations is by being assertive. We have often heard of this word but many of us don’t realize it’s true meaning. There are some powerful words that comes along with the word “assertive”. For example, confident, positive, bold, decisive, strong-willed and determined. Pick up these behavioral traits, practice it often and it may change you cognitively as well as behaviorally. It’s proven to be a good mental exercise for many of us. However, there are still people who choose not to practice it and take a different path by being non-assertive, defensive or aggressive.
Lastly, one should be spiritually healthy, well and active.
Download Teleme’s mobile app and consult Dr Khairi today
E-counselling can be more affordable compared to traditional counselling as it doesn’t require mental health professionals to rent a commercial space and incur overhead or administration costs to perform face-to-face counselling at a clinic.
Teleme’s platform is readily available for mental health professionals to use and is equipped with features to monitor user’s health progress. Teleme’s platform allows mental health professionals to send advice, educational leaflets or videos online to help their patients. It allows users to reach out to their mental health professionals even after the clinic is closed. In fact, mental needs can arise anytime and it is very reassuring for the users to know that a mental health professional is available to them at the click of a button on their mobile phone.
Each of Teleme’s mental health professional on board usually has an area of specialization such as child psychology, autism, addiction, grief counselling, anxiety and etc.
Teleme’s platform allows users to consult mental health professionals at their own convenience, anytime and anywhere. Users are able to do online consultations from the comfort of their own home as some of them may feel uncomfortable to leave their home to visit a clinic due to the stigma of having mental health issues. It’s also useful for users who are residing in rural or remote areas with limited access to mental health professionals who are often based in the big towns or cities.
In addition, Teleme’s platform allows users to choose their preferred method of communication with a mental health professional from messenger, video call or voice call (which can only be initiated by the practitioner and it’s normally initiated after the user and the practitioner conversed via messenger).
At the end of the online consultation, the mental health professional can write a consultation summary to share with users. This summary will help users to understand all the issues discussed and then carry out the recommendations suggested.
Don’t suffer in silence. You’re one click away to seek for help on Teleme.
While stress is an automatic response from your nervous system, some stressors arise at expected situations such as meeting monthly work targets, driving during rush hours or taking a blood test. When facing such predictable situations which will cause stress, you can either change the situation or change your reaction. When determining what to do in any given scenario, it’s useful and helpful to think of the four A’s: avoid, alter, adapt or accept.
Alter the situation if you can’t avoid a stressful situation. This often involves changing the way you communicate and carry out your daily life.
Express your feelings instead of keeping your emotions. If someone or something is bothering you, be assertive and communicate your concerns in an open and respectful way. If your colleagues are chatting and you can’t work, tell them off in a polite manner. If you don’t voice out how you feel, resentment will build and stress will increase.
Be willing to compromise. If you and your partner are constantly arguing, both you and your partner would have to compromise to change each other’s behaviour in order to find a happy middle ground.
Start a balanced schedule. All work and play is a recipe for burnout. Find a balance between work and personal time.
Adapt to stressful situations and regain your sense of control by changing your expectations and attitude.
Reframe problems. Try to view stressful situations from a positive perspective. Rather than raging at traffic jam, switch on your favourite music and enjoy it.
Adjust your expectations and standards. Stop being a perfectionism and set too high expectations and standards. Set reasonable standards for yourself and others as long as it is good enough.
Practice gratitude. When you’re breaking down, take a moment to reflect on all the things you appreciate in life such as people you love and your own positive qualities.
4)Accept the things you can’t change
In certain stressful situations which you can’t avoid, the best way to cope with stress is to accept things the way it is. There are situations which you can’t avoid such as death of a loved one, serious illness or recession. Acceptance may be difficult, but in the long run, it’s easier than railing against a situation you can’t change.
Don’t try to control the uncontrollable. A lot of things in life is outside of our control especially the behaviour of people. Choose to change your reaction towards them instead of stressing out over them.
Positive view. When you’re faced with challenges in life, look at them as opportunities for personal growth. If you’ve done a mistake which has contributed to the stressful situation, reflect on it and learn from it.
Learn to forgive. No one is perfect and people make mistakes. Overcome your anger and resentment by forgiving and moving on.
Share your feelings. Talk to a trusted family member or friend about your stressful situation. You can also talk to a trusted therapist.