While the digital nomad lifestyle is often glamorized, nomads face their own set struggles. You may experience an added pressure to succeed, burnout, isolation, stress from lack of routine, and/or loneliness. Whatever you’re dealing with, get the support you need. Here are some virtual mental health resources for support no matter what country you’re exploring.
I’ve learned over the last 7 years of nomadic life that your trauma and mental health struggles do not magically disappear in Bali (or maybe they do, I’ve never been…). Luckily for my childhood trauma, she’s has been around the world, even taught in South Korea and island-hopped in Panama. *lol* All jokes aside, during my “big gay awakening” last year, I relied heavily on the virtual support and mental health tools listed below.
Whether you’re in a dark place or just looking for some “mental health maintenance” tools and support, this article is for you!
1. Virtual Therapy
Ahh, the world of telehealth. Regardless of whether you have health insurance or not, here are some affordable virtual therapy services perfect for digital nomads.
Better Help has one of the largest networks of therapists. After setting your preferences, you are automatically matched with a therapist. What I love about the platform is that you have the freedom to switch therapists at any time with the click of a button. Cost ranges from $40-70 a week (billed monthly). Financial assistance is available to those who qualify. Therapy sessions are audio or video calls with messaging capabilities between sessions.
I found an amazing LGBTQ+ therapist on Better Help who has been a huge support throughout my coming out journey. The support I have received from her is priceless and I kick myself for not seeking out the support sooner.
Click here to use my referral code and to get your first week free.
Talkspace is another highly recommended option. Similar to Better Help, you fill out an assessment and are matched with a therapist. In addition, you are given the option to pick between a few different therapists. Plans include text, video, audio messaging, and live sessions. Cost ranges from $65-90 a week, if your company has an employee assistance program (EAP), you may be eligible for coverage through your employer.
7 Cups is the most affordable option with plans starting as low as $150 a month. The website also offers access to speak with a trained volunteer for emotional support at no cost. After creating an account, you are given the option for a free account (24/7 support) or to connect with a licensed therapist.
Pride Counseling is online therapy specifically for the LGBTQ+ community. All of their counselors specialize in the LGBTQ community, but different counselors have different approaches and areas of focus. Counseling sessions take place with your therapist via video conferencing, phone calls, chatting live, and exchanging messages. Costs range from $40-70 a week.
2. Mindfulness Apps
Meditation is proven to reduce stress, improve sleep, help with addictions, and decrease blood pressure. Here are some apps to support you and your mental health (all options have free and paid plans).
Search thousands of meditations, jump into discussion groups, and use Insight Timer‘s music tracks and ambient sounds to calm your mind and promote sleep.
In just 5 minutes each day, learn how to de-stress and sleep better. Breethe’s guided meditation series, inspirational talks, and masterclasses from mindfulness coach Lynne Goldberg make this app special. Breethe also features music playlists, nature sounds, and bedtime readings.
The Headspace app is my personal favorite. It builds personalized plans based on input from you, so you can learn the essentials of meditation and build from there. Use their music, nature, or storytelling sleepcasts to promote sleep or guided meditations for overall wellness, balance, and de-stress.
3. Virtual 12-Step Programs
You might think 12-step programs are only for recovering alcoholics (Alcoholics Anonymous), but there are a wide variety of programs to find support. To name a few: Narcotics Anonymous, Codependents Anonymous, Al-Anon, Sex Addicts Anonymous, Eating Disorders Anonymous, Adult Children of Alcoholics, and Gamblers Anonymous.
I thank the pandemic for giving me the push to seek out a 12-step program. As a digital nomad, I didn’t think it was doable to go to in-person meetings while traveling, or maybe I was just avoiding it. Either way, I went to my first (virtual) Al-Anon meeting last year when virtual meetings became highly accessible. Al-Anon is a support and discussion group for the relatives of people suffering from alcoholism. Much like therapy, I kicked myself for not going sooner. The things I like most about going to meetings are the unconditional support, judgment-free space, and consistency. The meetings are always going to be there and I always end up finding clarity or comfort through someone else’s story.
If you’ve never been to a meeting before, here’s what to expect. The first part of the meeting newcomers can introduce themselves or you can choose to turn your video off for the meeting and just observe. Then, the “main speaker” talks for roughly 10 minutes about a specific topic (usually pertaining to their story or one of the 12 steps). After, other participants are given space to talk about….literally whatever the hell you want to get off your chest and not be judged for. Cross talk (interrupting) is not allowed. Meetings often have a suggested donation ($3ish dollars), newcomers can come free.
4. LGBTQ+ Support Groups
Most cities have an LGBTQ+ center with support groups and/or group therapy options. If you are questioning or seeking community, I highly recommend group support. For example, The Halsted Center in Chicago offers group therapy such as Grief and Loss, HIV+ Group (free), Trans, Non-Binary and Gender Non-Conforming Group, and a Queer Women’s Group. Sessions are $15.
Search for your LGBTQ+ center in your (home) city for group therapy or virtual meetings in any major city.
5. Virtual Meet-ups
Finding a community and building meaningful friendships can significantly help your mental health and overall wellbeing. Whether you are questioning, just coming out, or a “seasoned” gay, find a community of people with shared experiences. If you’re a trans nonbinary person, look for virtual meet-ups for trans folx. If you’re a late-in-life lesbian, connect with other lesbians who can relate to your experience.
Meetup.com is a platform for finding and building local communities. The site hosts a variety of virtual and in-person events, everything from LGBTQ+ book clubs to LGBTQ+ peer counseling meet-ups to LGBTQ+ seniors virtual meet-ups. If you’re not finding the right meet-up for you, create one!
Here are some communities I’m a part of and recommend: Queer Impact Collective (LGBTQ+ Entrepreneurs, feel free to mention “Courtney Vondran sent me”) and LGBTQ+ Bloggers and Content Creators (hosted by me!)
Lastly, if you need immediate help, here are some resources for you. Please reach out and get the help that you need. The world needs cool queers like you. xoxo
If you are thinking about hurting yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you are a transgender person in crisis or needing support, call Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.
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