Over 40 million Americans suffer from some type of mental illness, and some experts estimate that as many as half of them do not receive the care they need. One reason behind this shortage of mental health care is the stigma that is inherently associated with it. And, while the last few years have been marked by an increasing awareness of mental illness and more acceptance than ever before, the situation remains far from optimal. According to health professionals, awareness is just as significant as knowledge. The lack of awareness, therefore, is driving the stigma, which in turn hinders many individuals from seeking out the help they need and deserve. Another reason why so many mentally ill people are left untreated is the cost. Therapy is expensive, and thus not accessible to everyone who could benefit from it.
Talkspace is an online therapy platform that offers its users access to therapists via the internet. Companies like Talkspace aim to eliminate the hurdles that mentally ill clients face by introducing online therapy, which makes quicker and cheaper help available to everyone. Since Oren Frank founded the company in 2012, he has helped over a million individuals cope with issues such as eating disorders, anxiety, personality disorders, depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and family problems. An estimated 70% of these clients have never been in therapy before. The co-founder and chief executive officer has created a safe, private, and affordable space and made therapy accessible for all individuals.
Online therapy is often referred to as e-therapy, distance therapy, internet therapy, or web therapy. The Talkspace platform enables users to get the help they need from several devices. The company provides a space where clients can connect to therapists and online therapy networks via technology mediums such as apps for texting, video chats, voice calls, and audio messaging. The algorithm is based on banking-grade encryption to keep the user-therapist interaction safe and confidential. Once paired with a therapist, the frequency of interactions depends on the needs of the client. Therapists typically respond once or twice a day, but that amount can increase based on need.
In addition to the therapy services that Talkspace offers, advice is available online to both members and the wider community via blog posts by staff therapists. For example, Dr. Samantha Rodman, a staff clinical psychologist, discusses anxiety and depression and how the two are linked in terms of symptoms and the therapies that are prescribed to treat them. She elaborates that many of her clients believe that they are depressed when they actually have anxiety and vice versa.
Rodman writes that there are several shared traits and symptoms of anxiety and depression, including nervous energy, avoidance or retreat, negative thoughts, and overall behavioral changes. She concludes her post with an elaboration on how therapy can help address symptoms of both anxiety and depression, and how it can help those who are struggling get back on track. She also assures readers that “there is no shame in getting help and support from a trained professional” to “figure out next steps to take to create a life that makes you feel happy and fulfilled.”
In another post, Josh Wolff, a staff writer at Talkspace, writes about the Myers-Briggs personality test (MBTI). He begins with a definition and the history of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality test. He discusses the test’s various personality subtypes into which individuals who take it are categorized. These subtypes include the Introvert (I) versus Extrovert (E), Intuitive (N) versus Sensory (S), Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F), and Perceiving (P) versus Judging (J) categories. Wolff continues with a discussion of what the results mean and how to take the test yourself.
Like Dr. Rodman, Wolff wraps up his post by discussing how therapy is an effective means by which individuals can get to know themselves better. According to him, while a personality test can provide helpful indications about one’s character traits, “therapists can give you concrete tools and exercises to apply to your life and help improve traits you feel may be holding you back.” He further advocates for therapy because “we’re humans, not four-letter acronyms, and we deserve to be considered in the full context of our uniqueness.”
In yet another post on the Talkspace website, Ladan Nikravan Hayes discusses the definition of hypochondria and informs readers about how they can get help if they believe they are affected by this condition. She begins by defining the condition’s symptoms and the available therapy options. In particular, Hayes writes that hypochondria is a psychological disorder, regardless of the potential existence of legitimate symptoms. As such, “psychotherapy in a number of forms – cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, or stress management – can be beneficial.” She concludes with words of assurance, writing that there are helpful options for those who believe they may suffer from hypochondria. She urges readers to “consider speaking with a therapist to help work through these medically-based anxieties.”
With Talkspace, Frank not only aims to make therapy accessible for all individuals, but hopes that, by bringing more individuals on board, he will help to dissolve the stigma associated with mental illness. Talkspace online therapy underlines the significance of focusing on effective treatment while highlighting that therapy is not just for the select few but, rather, for anyone who believes they need it.