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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, June 10, 2017 1:00 am

Mental health going high tech

Bowen Center adds online help

RON SHAWGO | The Journal Gazette

Mental health counseling has adapted to the smartphone era.

The Bowen Center is partnering with BetterHelp to offer online counseling anytime through a computer, tablet or smartphone. The center will direct clients who might benefit from the online platform to betterhelp.com, which has 500,000 clients worldwide and more than 2,500 licensed therapists, said Matthew Brown, Noble County Bowen Center director.

“Mental health counseling is continuing to change and we want to be part of that change,” said Brown, who is spearheading the effort.

The Bowen Center provides professional mental and behavioral health care services to northeast Indiana at 11 locations. The center employs psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, therapists, and chemical dependency specialists.

BetterHelp requires a subscription, and clients can use the site independent of the Bowen Center. But the center is offering a free trial, Brown said. The service uses text, video, and phone-based counseling. Brown said it's a way to offer additional services to the community.

BetterHelp is for people who are comfortable with the technology and unable to make an office visit, or who suffer from mild depression, anxiety and other disorders that don't require in-person counseling, Brown said. The Bowen Center sees itself as the “ground effort” in the partnership for patients needing face-to-face care, he added.

Clients are assigned a BetterHelp therapist, and measures have shown that for certain disorders the online services are comparable, if not better, than office services, Brown said. The partnership could set the stage for Bowen to do more online, he added.

rshawgo@jg.net