Mental Health Match offering 100 free initial therapy sessions – Houston Chronicle

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 11:53 am

This post was added by Alex Diaz-Granados

Ryan Schwartz started Mental Health Match last May to connect those in need with therapists. Now with COVID-19 weighing on peoples minds, Schwartz is trying to give away 100 free first sessions.

He said as the pandemic started to get serious, people were clambering to find some help, but many lacked direction. So Mental Health Match decided to begin offering a free session to those that needed one.

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We saw a major drop off in people contacting therapists, so people were grasping for any type of mental health advice, Schwartz said. So we realized that because of all, like the feelings of being overwhelmed and that kind of crisis survival mode that people have been in, that they werent necessarily taking steps forward.

In total, Mental Health Match has made about 1,100 matches since last spring, helping people find a therapist that works for their specific needs. And so far, they have given away about 50 of those free first sessions, which Schwartz said are being offered by about 50 therapists. Beyond that, if finances are an issue, many of the therapists on Mental Health Match offer their services on a sliding scale or discounted sessions.

When we match people to therapists, we do so based off a budget. Its one of the criteria as well, making sure that were matching folks who are affordable, Schwartz explained.

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The Mental Health Match website asks a few questions and takes about five minutes to match someone with a few potential therapists. Currently, they work with about 300 active therapists.

Beyond anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed, Schwartz said the Mental Health Match therapists have been seeing people match with therapists for a number of other issues, such as relationships with their spouses or parenting concerns during the COVID-19 crisis.

Schwartz said, We know that this is a time thats really bringing tension and stresses to the forefront, and so we know that trained therapists are one of the best resources that we have.

Jessica Eiseman is the owner and clinical director of Ajana Therapy & Clinical Services. Most of her therapists are on Mental Health Match, and Eiseman is one of the 50 therapists that are offering the free initial sessions. She said the free sessions were important because it might help that person that would not otherwise seek out therapy.

I think right now, especially were all in this huge uncertain time, and I think people are losing their jobs, said Eiseman. And a lot of people are needing, you know, mental health more so than ever.

Schwartz said once all free sessions are gone, some of the therapists that offering the free sessions now will still be offering initial sessions for $50 in April .

Over the past several weeks, Mental Health Match has expanded beyond the Houston area to other cities like Dallas and Austin and other areas across Texas as teletherapy has been on the rise amid the pandemic and social distancing.

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To Schwartz, at the core of Mental Health Match is realizing that therapists are great resources who are helping others find the next right steps to find one right for them. He said he personally was having a hard time getting through this pandemic, but his therapist provided him with some new perspectives and coping mechanisms like taking a break to go outside for a few minutes, even if in the middle of the day.

My own therapist has helped me realize what was happening to myself, to my body and plan to take care of myself and to understand those things that I think I would want other folks to be able to experience, the same benefits that Ive gotten from a therapist now as well, Schwartz said.

In addition, MHM has two therapists offering free therapy for health workers on the frontline. For more information, visit https://www.catalyst-counseling.com/. And there are a few therapists offering free or donation-based online support groups. Find general information at https://mentalhealthmatch.com/.

Tracy was born and raised in southwest Houston. Although she has left the Bayou City several times for different reasons, she has somehow always found her way back. She graduated from Houston Baptist University some years back and is now a reporter for The Katy Rancher, covering everything from education to features to local businesses and governments.

Special areas of interest include mental health issues, education, nonprofits and anything that is helpful to read and might make a difference. Tracy enjoys meaningful conversations over Tex-Mex or good coffee, camping and spending time with her husband and two dogs at their home in Katy.

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Mental Health Match offering 100 free initial therapy sessions - Houston Chronicle

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