Living in a fast-paced environment with so much going on can take a big mental and emotional toll on us. Some might relax their mind by switching to yoga, relaxing music, Netflix, Nintendo, or going for a walk.
But believe it or not, talking and expressing your feelings aloud can be the best medicine as it helps us stay healthy, get through tough times, and sometimes even find an effective solution to a problem. Even as an introvert, there have been many times when I felt the need to talk to someone. But talking to a therapist or a mental health counselor was sort of a new thing to me until recently when I had the chance to try a mental health app called “Ooca”, thanks to Vero’s wellness program.
Interestingly, advice from the app’s psychiatrist helped me understand certain difficulties and refresh my mind about work. This changed my view of mental health therapy in some ways. But first, let’s start with what exactly is mental health and how it is perceived now, compared to the past.
Technology solutions begin to ‘break’ taboos around mental health
Mental health is not only about emotional health, but it also includes our social well-being. It also helps define how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Unfortunately, unlike the western view of counseling and mental health therapy, mental wellness has often been ignored and rarely been discussed in Asia, including Thailand, due to misconceptions and stigma about psychotherapy.
But nowadays, people are more open about their mental health as well as life issues such as stress and burnout. For agency people, there are also problems with time management, multi-tasking, pressures from demanding clients which can change mental wellbeing and later affect our work efficiency.
With today’s technologies, mental health apps have been widely used around the world and are forecast to grow even further into a USD300 million industry by 2027. The increasing penetration and adoption of these apps make therapy accessible, convenient, and approachable, more than ever. Slowly, we can expect these online services to open a healthy space where mental health can be properly addressed and discussed. And promoting good mental health and stress management can enhance our performance and productivity.
As a beginner, I’m writing this article to give an honest review of my first mental health consultation through the Ooca app: the pros, the cons, and how to get started.
Things to consider before getting started with mental health support
When talking about mental health, there are a few things to consider and steps to take to ensure that you make the right decisions and get the right support for yourself.
- Ask when you might want to seek help – for example, when you’re worrying more than usual, having difficult feelings which have an impact on your day-to-day life or work performance, or interested in finding more support or treatment
- Embrace yourself and your struggles – It is much healthier to be honest and open with yourself about how things are going, as suppressing these feelings will make you feel more overwhelmed.
- Write down your feelings and/or worries – journaling can be especially useful as it can make you understand your thoughts and feelings more clearly and reduce anxiety. Writing can also help your brain become more focused, allowing you to complete tasks more successfully.
- Have an open conversation with people you love – don’t hesitate to talk with those you love and trust if you’ve been struggling. Your loved ones will be there to support you and you’ll feel better about yourself for opening up.
- Find professional support – Apart from friends, family, and colleagues, there are other options that you might find more suitable or more accessible for you, such as workplace support, trained therapists, etc. i
One thing to keep in mind is that finding your personal therapist is almost like finding your soulmate. You may have to try different options to find the right one. But don’t give up! There are now many online mental health services you can try from the comfort of your home as well.
Ooca as an alternative to therapy
As one of the first and well-known tele-mental health platforms in Thailand, Ooca provides counseling services via online video conferencing through its website and mobile application with mental health professionals.
The platform aims to help people feel more comfortable and more accepting that it’s ok to talk about mental health issues. Users can either pick their own professional to link up with or be matched by the site. You can get connected from anywhere with privacy and the highest security as well as anonymously.
In addition to connecting with individuals, Ooca is also working with businesses, including Vero, to supply mental health support for their employees.
My personal review of Ooca’s services
- Ease of use – The user interface is nice and friendly, with simple steps to follow when you want to make an appointment. Their admins supported customers well when there are technical problems. Please note that a strong Wi-Fi connection is needed to access the app or the site.
- Effectiveness – For the first consultation, I had no idea which consultants/therapists I should talk to. Maybe a short description or short video introduction for each professional would be helpful. And 30 minutes per session may not be enough for counseling, especially not enough for the first session where the therapist needs to know our background as much as possible. 45 minutes per session seems perfect.
- Personalization – It could be like a long-term commitment if one wants to use the app, meaning it must be at least 4 to 5 sessions of counseling for us to gain useful advice. The app may be particularly good for those who want someone to listen to and be a safe space for them to talk about their concerns. It may not be a right fit for those who want fast, practical advice.
- Other features – besides their counseling service, I personally found most of the online content by Ooca, both blog posts and YouTube video clips, remarkably interesting and helpful. These contents explained and discussed mental health challenges clearly with a productive conversation that can be adapted easily to everyday life.
Utilizing emotional intelligence in the workplace: Things I’ve learned from the sessions:
Something I learned from my first two sessions with the therapist at Ooca is about emotional intelligence in the workplace. Emotional intelligence is important since it can help improve your interpersonal relationships, both personally and professionally. Moreover, it can promote a positive work environment. You need to have self-awareness, the ability to control and adjust your emotions, have empathy as well as strong social skills to listen, speak and resolve conflicts more effectively.
But at the same time, if you receive harsh feedback, you must separate your feeling or emotions from facts, and turn it into motivation to face the challenge and improve your work. Also, be flexible and accept that change always occurs, but never be reluctant to share your opinions on how things should go.
To sum up my first experience of mental health therapy, I learned that it is important to address our fears and to embrace discussing our concerns, rather than avoid talking about things that worry us. Mental health service apps are really a good start to expand people’s views on mental health issues and how to address them effectively. For those who haven’t tried them, I would suggest you try the service with an open mind and benefit from the therapist’s counsel. You will not only get to know yourself better, but you’ll understand other people better too. And you might get some useful suggestions that not only help you sort out certain difficulties but make you feel happier and healthier as well.
Mental health is something we all have. When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, motivation, inspiration, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives, including work. I hope these online mental health services will help open a new, safe space for people to start addressing their mental health concerns and take diligent care of their mental wellbeing in the long run.