Americans Are Flocking to Online Therapy For Post-Election Counseling

Psychologists say more than half of the country was coping with major election stress.

Nov 10 2016, 4:17pm

Image: Crisis Text Line

In this election, politics have been very personal. With Donald Trump as president-elect, the fate of the country has become a wild card, and many women, Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ citizens, and other minorities feel individually marginalized by the prospect of his leadership. So naturally they're looking for help.

Online therapy sites have seen an immediate uptick in clientele throughout the election. The American Psychological Association reported that even weeks before the results came in, 52 percent of Americans were coping with "high levels of stress brought on by this election."

Alon Matas, founder of BetterHelp, an online therapy resource, told Motherboard that anxiety is the main issue most recent clients are facing. Over the last few weeks, BetterHelp saw a sharp 30 percent increase in sign ups, and another spurt the night of the election.

"The words "election" and "scared" are the top things texters mention."

At Crisis Text Line, which provides mental health support through mobile texting, there was a two times increase in volume since the afternoon of election day.

And a lot of the new clients reported being driven by fear. The words "election" and "scared" are the top things texters mention, said Nancy Lublin, CEO and founder of Crisis Text Line. And the most common association with "scared" was "LGBTQ." Over five percent of texters also mentioned anxiety and family disagreement over the election, she added.

"Yesterday was a bit of surprise—for the people who are happy about the election results and the people who aren't happy," Lublin said. "The entire country is feeling feels."

So how can people cope? Lublin suggested simply continuing to live life: exercising, cooking, community work, self care and being kind to one another. Sure, that may sound cliche, but it's important to recognize that in times of crisis, life goes on.

Trump protests in San Diego. Image: Wikimedia

Meanwhile, some therapy organizations are getting a little more psychedelic.

This weekend, Catharsis on the Mall is holding a healing vigil based on the principles of Burning Man on the Washington Mall, nearby the National Monument. Catharsis is co-created with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which does FDA-approved research on the drug MDMA for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD..

The 2016 election has already been classified as a potential cause of PTSD, according to Catharsis. PTSD is not relegated only to war and rape, but can also result from racism and systemic injustices.

One nursery even handed out "trauma advice sheets" to parents after Trump was declared the winner.

"Trauma is the experience of feeling profoundly unsafe, so this election, and surely this presidency, will continue to traumatize large numbers of Americans, especially those marginalized by race, gender, religion, sexuality, sexual orientation, ability, and all other groups our new president has explicitly threatened," Natalie Lyla Ginsberg, Catharsis co-organizer and MAPS policy and advocacy manager, told Motherboard.

All over the country, citizens are dealing with mixed emotions, fear, and anger. One nursery even handed out "trauma advice sheets" to parents after Trump was declared the winner. Be it through therapy, gatherings, or tips on self-care, fostering community in the wake of a divisive election will be key to going forward.

Ginsberg quoted Audre Lorde, a queer black civil rights activist and author, for motivation. "Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

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