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If NO ONE wants to hear about your problems, TEXT them to Talkspace

If NO ONE wants to hear about your problems, TEXT them to Talkspace

Talk­space, launched way back in 2012 has devel­oped an app which con­nects users with licensed ther­a­pists for mobile text-based ther­a­py ses­sions. By elim­i­nat­ing the fear, anx­i­ety and cost asso­ci­at­ed with tra­di­tion­al ther­a­py, the com­pa­ny is mak­ing it easy for mil­lions of peo­ple to be proac­tive about their men­tal health. Today, there are 200 licensed pro­fes­sion­als in its net­work, ser­vic­ing 100,000 users.

At present the com­pa­ny has man­aged to get itself a fresh $9.5 mil­lion injec­tion of financ­ing. These mil­lions are to be applied to bring­ing ther­a­py to the mass­es (name­ly a bil­lion peo­ple). The company’s mis­sion is to deliv­er inex­pen­sive ther­a­py ser­vices, any­time, any­where. The idea is a patient and ther­a­pist are teamed up and can mes­sage each oth­er 24/7 for $25 a week. Couple’s ther­a­py is also avail­able at $149 a month. The total fund­ing so far is $13 mil­lion and it doesn’t seem to be stop­ping any time soon.

Alex Finkel­stein, the gen­er­al part­ner at Spark Cap­i­tal who was involved in the lat­est round of fund­ing said “When we first invest­ed we thought of this as ther­a­py-lite. But when we talked to ther­a­pists we real­ized that this was ther­a­py on-demand.” With­in a year the com­pa­ny com­piled a 100,000 users across the U.S. and Eng­lish speak­ers in Cana­da and Aus­tralia. One of the biggest thresh­olds to cross for Talk­space is that in New York it feels like every­one has a ther­a­pist, while in the rest of the coun­try, ther­a­py has a neg­a­tive vibe attached to it. So the com­pa­ny is going to have to do a lot of cre­ative mar­ket­ing to expand prodi­gious­ly.

There’s also a mat­ter of cost. While Talk­space is rel­a­tive­ly afford­able, at rough­ly $100 a month for unlim­it­ed tex­ting with a ther­a­pist, and far more inex­pen­sive than most ther­a­py ser­vices, it’s still an addi­tion­al cost to con­sumers — and Talk­space does not take health insur­ance. Hon­est­ly Talk­space should be work­ing with and talk­ing to gen­er­al prac­ti­tion­ers to get their word out and they haven’t just yet. How­ev­er, Talk­space is work­ing with vet­er­ans who may have PTSD to use the app as often as pos­si­ble. Then there are busi­ness­es who see hav­ing some­one to talk to as a perk.

Talk­space is look­ing to extend its ser­vices beyond the U.S. into Europe and Asia by 2016 and announced a part­ner­ship with IBM Wat­son to lever­age its cog­ni­tive com­put­ing engine in order to improve the deliv­ery of men­tal health treat­ment. Talk­space plans on teach­ing Wat­son all about psy­chol­o­gy while lever­ag­ing the plat­forms Nat­ur­al Lan­guage Pro­cess­ing (NLP) tech­nol­o­gy to cre­ate a self-learn­ing sys­tem that will sup­port the clin­i­cal deci­sion mak­ing capa­bil­i­ties of ther­a­pists treat­ing patients on the ser­vice.

“There’s a mas­sive need for ther­a­py on-demand,” said Alex Finkel­stein, gen­er­al part­ner at Spark Cap­i­tal. “One in four Amer­i­cans will suf­fer from a men­tal health issue this year and we have to devel­op smarter ways to deliv­er qual­i­ty care to the mil­lions of peo­ple who don’t have access,” said Oren Frank, co-founder and CEO of Talk­space. They also have a vision to part­ner with col­lege cam­pus­es and uni­ver­si­ties in the U.S. to pro­vide help for stu­dents suf­fer­ing from depres­sion and sub­stance abuse. “We have so many col­lege stu­dents reach­ing out”.

Per­son­al­ly I feel some­times I could use a lit­tle ther­a­py, but I must say what a fas­ci­nat­ing out­let for self-improve­ment and over­all well-being. Let’s not for­get they now have more cash to work with and are def­i­nite­ly look­ing to hire (jobs at Talk­space).

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