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).