So when T-Mobile invited me to listen to a brand new podcast with the T-Mobile Stories team, Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist Shawna Ryan and veteran editor and writer Jason Adams, I was super interested in participating.
Mobile Diaries is a brand-new podcast about modern digital life, and of course, the mobile technology that makes it possible. In our already extremely fast-paced and digitally driven world, the pandemic has accelerated the use of mobile technology to new heights.
It’s working from anywhere, online dating, therapy apps, and more. How do we navigate this new world, find balance in it, and maybe even thrive in it? It’s time to talk about “Mobile Mindfulness” and how we can use our devices, without our devices using us.
T-Mobile and the Future of Mental Health Resources:
I don’t know how you listen to podcasts, but I went alone to a dark room to fully listen to this episode. There was a trigger warning, because of stories of depression, but also the knowledge that there is value in sharing stories and hearing other perspectives.
Everyone has different experiences and different levels of depression and/or anxiety, or none at all, but there is real value in hearing what other people go through, how they cope, what they find helpful, etc.
T-Mobile Stories first discussed the stats last year in an article about the way mental health resources were evolving and they are jarring. A CDC pulse survey found, among many other things, that rates of anxiety and depression were up 100 percent, year over year, from July 2019 to July 2020. The podcast interviewed both a therapist who have pivoted to a digital healthcare platform as well as someone who shared their experiences of depression and their use of tele-therapy.
We’re all buried under headlines lately. It’s the pandemic and social upheaval and disconnect. Plus, even just the regular life chaos feels much worse. We all have to find our ways to carry on and carry through, and mental health resources have looked different for two years and will continue to do so.
The podcast discussed a study the T-Mobile Stories team reported on about an affirmation via text being as meaningful as any in-person affirmations, or thank you notes. People are always looking for evergreen ways to use their devices for more inner peace. During the pandemic, the devices we depended on for enhancing our lives became essential to living our lives. It’s no surprise many of us enlisted expert advice on how to use our devices with more intentionality, and now we wonder what the future of mobile mental health might look like.
There are new challenges at this point of the pandemic, as life opens back up. There is anxiety in going back to office work. People have to readjust to going back, after readjusting to staying home. There is childcare, as well as pet care for dogs adopted during COVID.
There are the long-term effects of having had COVID, from long-haul COVID symptoms to the pain of being close to people who have been ill or who have passed away. We have to process the losses that happened. There is anxiety around wondering if we, or life, will ever feel normal again. And there are challenges with unemployment, food and housing insecurity, and a shortage of therapists. It is so much.
Mental Health Access:
Even though Mental Health Awareness Month ended in May, we continue to investigate how our relationship with our devices has changed since the start of the COVID‑19 pandemic, from setting boundaries in a mobile‑first world to breaking down barriers to mental health access.
As the T-Mobile stories team reported, the stats around mental health needs have been staggering, and yet, more than 20 percent of adults who noted symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder admitted to needing but not receiving counseling or therapy.
In this episode “Mobile Mindfulness” the main guest Haesue Jo, MA is a therapist who talks about how teletherapy has helped so many people through the pandemic and how she feels it is a phenomenon that is here to stay. This is big!
Haesue is the current Head of Clinical Operations at BetterHelp, the world’s largest online therapy service, where she empowers other therapists in being successful at bringing their skills online.
This is a topic the T-Mobile Stories team knows a lot about. T-Mobile introduced LiveMagenta in 2017 to its employees. This well-being benefit offers a wide range of resources, including digital options, across a number of areas such as financial, physical, emotional, etc.
And in November 2021, T-Mobile became the first wireless company to extend mental health resources to customers via the nationwide 988 emergency lifeline. This means that those in need of free mental health support were able to access it immediately by dialing 988 to be connected directly to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a network of approximately 180 local and state-funded crisis centers.
Mental Health Help – Anytime and Anywhere:
As you know, I have listened to the T-Mobile Stories podcast about mental health, at least a few times now. There has been an accelerated acceptance, and collective mental health reaction, to talk about how it’s “ok to not be ok.” BetterHelp’s Haesue Jo discussed how we as humans are having trouble adjusting to this inconceivable thing that has happened to us. Between March and May, 2020, BetterHelp saw a huge increase in users seeking mental health help.
She said they noticed that people who were hesitant to getting help on digital platforms now had no other options because of therapists being ousted from offices. Some therapists who were also anti-teletherapy had no other choices. But she says even some of those who were skeptical have since become comfortable with using technology to help with life issues, and continued with online mental health options.
I thought it was so interesting when Haesue Jo responded to a caller with depression with her heart pounding fast. She said it’s so common for therapists to go into problem-solving mode when they hear a user or patient speak, but right now with the pandemic, there are so many compounding problems and it becomes overwhelming.
People will be impacted by COVID for many, many years to come. People need to manage anxiety, depression, work, kids, house stuff, etc. Life feels inconclusive right now. Mobile technology has helped shape our lives, and especially during the last 2+ years. Definitely check out this podcast by clicking here.
Therapists have had to transition to teletherapy because of lockdowns, and research had already shown that video-enabled teletherapy is as effective as in-person therapy and that the therapeutic relationship and satisfaction with therapy do not suffer.
Resources must evolve with changing times and lifestyles. The pandemic has been detrimental to mental health but also makes people more resilient and with better tools for the future. And mainly, the work isn’t finished. Problems don’t go away and tough times come and go, but how we cope can only get stronger.
The podcast had some soundbites of a TalkSpace user who had benefited from seeking online help and got some of the weight off of her brain to give herself some grace and relief. We have codependent relationships with our phones, and it’s important to find balance with usage. There is a lot of brokenness in our healthcare system, and any access to mental health tools can’t be a bad thing. Not any one thing will work for anyone, and this is a great tool to use. I really find this podcast to be so soothing and intriguing. You should check it out too!