Online Therapy services in Nigeria subsist in their budding stage. There are at present an estimated more than 200 million people living in the country. Whereas there’s just a handful of therapists to service the needs of the large chunk of the population that has access to the internet.
A vast majority are not even aware that they can meet a therapist that can address their issues without shifting base from their couch, right in their living room in urban Emene, Enugu state, or even local Ijebu-ode, in Ogun State.
Prior to writing this article, it was not clear to me that if I could get a psychotherapist in Lagos to talk to me, via texting, voice call, and still retain my anonymity. A quick search through indicates that there are well-organized, professional therapy offices online, prepared to service Nigerians.
It is refreshing to view their pages and witness the services they are ready to render and at prices that do not put a hole in the pocket.
And this is close to an accurate picture of the present situation with online therapy in Nigeria.
- 1 How much have we caught on?
- 2 Online therapy in Nigeria: What needs to be done
- 3 What is the future of online therapy in Nigeria?
- 4 What challenges is online therapy currently facing in Nigeria?
How much have we caught on?
The exigencies of the times have necessitated changes in how we do everything; from the way we travel, deliver goods, meet people, do business and even the way healthcare is provided.
About a decade ago we spoke of the world as being a global village. This village has even shrunken into a unit smaller than crossing the street, it is now as small as a breath, a click.
When changes happen, it is usually forward, with no one ever dreaming of stepping back into former ways. When therapy joined the rest of civilized business ways, it did it without the intention of going back.
But what makes online therapy such an appealing alternative to visiting a physical office?
You only need to understand the importance of privacy to get a grip on why online therapy has come to stay. Everyone wants their privacy protected, online therapists understand this more than any other profession.
Every therapist has an email, a reachable phone number you can text to, and a website with a minimalist landing page that provides all the first information a prospective client needs, all this at no initial cost. You don’t leave your home – it is fast; you don’t pay for membership – it is cost-effective, and you can be faceless.
One of the immense benefits the internet has brought to every individual business is a lower cost of running operations. Online therapy services in Nigeria now enjoy this. It is always going to be a win for both therapist and client.
And here again, is reason to prove that online therapy is here to stay. Of course, there is room for more improvement. Yet we can not deny the wide range of services provided at such low overhead costs.
Service delivery in real-time
According to the nature of therapy, it is usually based on one-on-one sessions. Meetings are scheduled to meet the particular and special needs of the client. Few services are able to meet needs this way.
It easier for everyone involved in online therapies because at the click of a button there is an ear at the other side of the line ready to listen and a mouth ready to soothe.
Special care for a special time
It is my opinion that therapy, whether online or offline, holds a special place for humanity. It is a service that caters to the people’s state of mind. Mental health is about the most important aspect of humans that is always under threat.
Sadly, it is the one that gets less attention, especially in developing countries like Nigeria.
Consider the role played by online therapy during the thick of the covid-19 lockdowns in major centers of the pandemic. It was a time when there were restrictions, businesses shut down, people’s livelihood put on hold, and all people did for entertainment and exercise was a short walk or staring at the walls of their homes.
The moment we slipped into the era of the internet, a special time was born, however, covid-19 came to expose how fragile all human institutions were. A virus ground the world economy to a half and jobs were lost.
It was a time people needed therapy the most.
But Nigerians are unable to leave their homes; so, enter online therapy once again. As the virus has abated in many countries, the stride we have made in online therapy requires that we do not relent in the push for more participation by all of us.
Perhaps I need to state here that we need more therapy homes online, and we need to sensitize the public about this very valuable branch of mental and health treatment.
Online therapy in Nigeria: What needs to be done
The measurement of the success of any market or service is how much of its target population is serviceable at any given time. As we have seen already, the fields are green for cultivation with regards to online therapy.
Half the population is still unaware that they can receive the services of therapists online, and many more do not yet see the possibilities of this vast potential.
There is yet not a known statistics of the therapists we have online. But we can rate the success not by him many online therapists but how many services they render. We gave sites that feature a cache of therapists based on what a client might need help on; ranging from women’s issues, weight loss, trauma, and PTSD to suicidal thoughts, OCD, LGBTQ, infidelity, Christian counseling, body image, ADHD, and career counseling.
It is amazing what services and satisfaction online therapy can bring to the potential searcher of solutions. It an open calm sea of options, and a shelf full of solutions.
How Deedeesblog is helping
As part of the range of services that we provide, Adetola, the Counseling Lead, rendered relationship counseling service to more than 200 Nigerians in 2020.
None of the counselees were met physically as all consultations were done online. This was further strengthened by the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions at that time.
The dire times made this concession imperative; people in Lagos weren’t able to go to their jobs or open their businesses. And some lost their jobs at the peak of the pandemic.
The future was bleak for a lot of people. Anxiety was high, it wasn’t a time to exert monetary charges for therapies, such demands would have been defeatist at best.
How about BetterHelp?
BetterHelp was founded in 2013 and provides virtual therapy services, from a network of thousands of licensed counselors and therapists, to those in need.
On their website, they say they operate hundreds of thousands of sessions every month and they have opportunities open for anyone who might want to join their team as a therapist.
With trained counselors and experienced therapists who understand what it means to help people psychologically, you can always trust their processes and your safety online when you reach out to them
At BetterHelp, privacy is a priority and they have some of the best protection policy, one that surpasses and is more advanced that what laws and regulations requires of them. All information shared with counselors is are protected by strict federal and state laws where the company is registered.
A client is free if they want to remain anonymous. When you register with them, you pick a “Nickname” and any further information that may be required by the counselor that is matched with you will be guided by applicable laws and regulations.
The decision to use their services is entirely yours. If you need other people’s testimonials to make an informed decision about their services you may check out the website for proof.
As of this month, BetterHelp has over 7,800 licensed therapists available, 900,000 patients, and over 70 million sessions completed. This is no easy feat. And this says a lot about how reliable they must humanly be in terms of results.
It must be that they get referrals aplenty. They have a mobile app through which patients communicate with their therapists. Options include messages, live chat, phone calls, or video conference with patients.
To carry out the work of therapy more efficiently, they are not covered by insurance companies, can not provide information for courts so if you are thinking of using their service, be sure it is because you want, basically, to get help on bettering your life through therapy, simple.
What is the future of online therapy in Nigeria?
Online Therapy is too appealing to the public for it to regress in any way. In my opinion and considering the present trend, online therapy is here to stay. We have indications pointing in the direction of growth, innovation, and success.
For example, in 2015, BetterHelp was acquired by Teladoc Health Inc., a telemedicine and virtual healthcare company resident in the United States. In 2018, its projected revenue reached $60 million.
We can say the online therapy industry is indeed promising and it is important that you jump on this to sort out your emotional and psychological needs.
As the internet continues to grow, and as ways of doing things morph and become easier, we expect to see online therapy change too and to make use of every new innovation in communication to better therapy sessions.
Some of the countries in the frontline include the United States. In Africa, Nigeria may begin to catch up before the end of the decade.
What challenges is online therapy currently facing in Nigeria?
Awareness. Ancillary to this is pricing. More work needs to be put into making people more aware that they can get help online, and to help Nigerians gravitate mentally towards online therapy as they have done other activities.
I do not believe we have a shortage of licensed psychologists and counselors in the country. Schools need them, workplaces and businesses need them.
The medium through which these conversations can occur already exists in form of mobile phones and computers. Hence, we can say we have the shops already, we just need the goods and services, and sellers to move in.
Digital Content websites like Deedeesblog are doing a great job already, servicing Lagos and the rest of the country.
The pandemic is mostly a whisper for most of the population who have gone back to work, yet we may still have difficulties with the costs of therapy in Nigeria.
You can spend anywhere from N10,000 to N200,000 for face-to-face therapy in Nigeria, depending on the health issue to be addressed.
Most of the population would rather stay home, drink water and keep their problems to themselves than spend that much on “talking” about their problem with a stranger.
In order to make online therapy more appealing to Nigerians perhaps we have to begin to help them see that it isn’t just “talking” when you meet a therapist online.
And we have to let them see how online therapy removes the risk of stigma which is associated with the traditional method of physically visiting a therapist or a psychologist.
We can follow this up with cost-effective methods. Perhaps we can have cheaper sessions that work so that reviews can push patronage higher.
Those who have benefited from the services of online therapists should include their experiences in conversations that revolve around health and mental health issues and other social subjects of interest.