The COVID-19 outbreak has brought a lot of uncertainty into the lives of many Americans. Over the span of just a few months, the number of unemployed individuals rose by 14 million. In response, many people have turned to the “gig economy” for supplemental income.
The Labor Market
The gig economy refers to the share of workers who are considered independent contractors, or freelancers, instead of permanent, full-time employees. This includes freelance photographers, content writers, people driving for Uber and Lyft, and others.
Many people working these jobs are reporting low or inconsistent wages along with having to work long hours to generate enough income. Unstable employment combined with low wages and no benefits – in addition to the stress of a global pandemic – can negatively impact the mental health of gig workers.
Uncertainty and the Toll on Mental Health
Unemployment or underemployment can cause stress, anxiety, and depression, which can lead to physical health problems. Unfortunately, more than half of gig workers do not have access to employer-based benefits, according to a recent study by Prudential.
Monthly premiums can cost someone making $1,650 a month around $70, and the typical copay to see a psychologist with insurance costs $20 to $50 per visit. These costs can quickly start cutting into other necessities, which can force many people to go without valuable mental health services.
How Teletherapy Can Help Gig Workers
Fortunately, technology has helped make mental healthcare more accessible and affordable while reducing exposure to COVID-19. Teletherapy is the use of digital devices, such as computers and smartphones, to carry out mental healthcare services.
Research on teletherapy has shown that it is just effective as in-person visits, it costs less and can eliminate barriers to in-person appointments such as lack of transportation, childcare, or busy schedules. The benefits of teletherapy make it a good compliment to your health insurance. A typical service costs $20 or less per month and gives you access to mental health professionals 24/7, 365 days a year with no copays. During times of uncertainty, teletherapy provides a solution that allows mental health to remain a top priority.
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