Mobile Text-Based Service Will Soon Offer Therapy To Those In Need
Talkspace for All launches this summer, breaking barriers between low-income individuals and mental health
Mental health care is often a luxury reserved for the wealthy: A single therapy session can take days or weeks to schedule, cost hundreds of dollars, and require time off work or finding childcare.
Of the one in five adults with mental illness in the U.S., 45 percent are not receiving treatment due to cost barriers.
At their April 7 conference, Talkspace co-founder Roni Frank announced a new initiative to put mental health within reach for these individuals: Talkspace for All. Set to launch July 2016, the program pledges 500 months per year to help low-income individuals access their therapy services.
Talkspace, a text-based service, matches those seeking therapy with a licensed therapist. They can then correspond in a private chatroom, whenever and wherever the need arises.
“Over time, many therapists have reached out to me, telling me about specific cases where people really need help but can’t afford $25 a week,” Frank told PSFK. “These are heartbreaking stories, and there are hundreds of them.” She recalled several anecdotes that inspired the program: an 18-year-old trans person who was disowned and living in public housing, an unemployed woman who was abused throughout her childhood, and a man who saved up for four months to afford one $25 week of therapy. “They can be anyone, from anywhere, with any background,” she says:
“With our ‘Therapy for All’ program, we want to make sure that mental health care is not a privilege for the rich, but a right for all people. This is a big part of our mission and we’re taking the first step to making therapy more accessible for those in need.”
By democratizing mental health, Frank says she hopes that this will have wider implications for the industry: Accessible, affordable healthcare and emerging startups that take on mental health in innovative ways. “We are on the cusp of a new era in healthcare,” she says, “and technology is what’s making it possible.”
Details on how to qualify for Talkspace for All are coming in the following weeks, according to a company spokesperson.
Woman texting via Shutterstock