The past year and a half has been unbelievably stressful. Life during a pandemic can be isolating, anxiety-inducing and lonely, especially for those battling mental health issues. Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day, so we thought there’s no better time to speak about the benefits of online therapy. Talkspace and Betterhelp are two of the most popular virtual options out there. Keep reading to learn about both programs and find out which one is right for you.
Why is therapy helpful?
Therapy in general is a healthy way to unpack and process your emotions in a safe place. It’s often easier to discuss difficult topics with someone who isn’t familiar with your life and can provide an outside perspective. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five U.S. adults experiences mental illness each year. 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% begins by age 24. You are not alone in this and reaching out for help, though scary, is the first step to healing.
Research conducted by the American Psychological Association shows that therapy reduces disability, morbidity and mortality, improves work functioning and decreases the odds of psychiatric hospitalization. It also notes that the combination of medication and therapy is often the most effective way to treat anxiety and depression.
What are the benefits of online therapy?
Online therapy can be done from the comfort of your home, which eliminates a lot of the anxiety some people face about going to a brand new place in person and meeting someone for the first time. A lot of us are re-entering social situations after many, many months of little interaction, which can be overwhelming. Virtual therapy allows you to cut out any kind of commute and connect with a therapist in your own space and on your terms.
A July 2020 review of 17 studies reported that participants found online therapy just as useful as in-person therapy. There are no messy scheduling conflicts and both Betterhelp and Talkspace have helpful, easy-to-use apps. It’s flexible, private and, of course, you’re able to snuggle with your fuzzy friend during each session for extra support.
The next question you may have is how to find the right therapist. It might be beneficial to write down questions/concerns you’d like to address when getting matched with professionals, such as:
- Who will you feel most comfortable speaking with? A woman? A man? A person of color? Someone in the LGBTQIA+ community?
- What credentials do they have?
- What is their specialty? What kind(s) of therapy do they use?
- What is the confidentiality agreement like?
- What is my first impression of this person if/when we speak on the phone?
If you’re more of a pro-con list kind of person, that’s also a helpful way to organize your thoughts and priorities. No matter what, whoever you decide to speak with, make sure you feel comfortable and heard.
It’s important to note that these online therapy programs are not crisis hotlines. If you need immediate help and/or are in a life-threatening situation, use these resources:
+1 (800) 273-8255: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | +1 (800) 799-7233: National Domestic Violence Hotline | +1 (800) 366-8288: Self-Harm Hotline |+1 (800) 622-2255: Alcoholism & Drug Dependency Hope Line | +1 (800) 233-4357: National Crisis Line, Anorexia and Bulimia | +1 (888) 843-4564: LGBT Hotline | +1 (877) 565-8860: The Trans Lifeline
New York City-based Talkspace offers therapy for individuals, couples, teens, as well as psychiatry, which helps with medication management and matches you with a licensed prescriber. The service covers a wide variety of specialties, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, LGBTQIA+, child abuse, chronic illness, mood disorders and many more. To get started, you’ll first be answering basic questions about your name, age, location, what you’re struggling with and how you’ve been coping. You’ll then be directed to browse the three plans that are offered:
- $89 per week: includes one 30-minute live session each month and unlimited text, video & audio messaging with your therapist; responses are guaranteed five days a week
- $75 per week: includes unlimited text, video & audio messaging with your therapist; responses are guaranteed five days a week
- $109 per week: includes four 30-minute live sessions each month and unlimited text, video & audio messaging with your therapist; responses are guaranteed five days a week
If you’re struggling but aren’t sure if you should be speaking with someone, you can click here to browse Talkspace’s free mental health evaluations.
Once you pick your subscription, you’ll be matched with someone who fits your needs. You’re able to change therapists, upgrade/downgrade plans or cancel your account at any time. Talkspace can be set up on a computer or through a smartphone app. Check this list of employers, health plans and employee assistance programs to see if you’re covered. Click here to get started with Talkspace
Betterhelp is based in Mountain View, California, and is the largest therapy service in the world. It offers therapy for individuals, couples and teens (the teen therapy website is a different link but it’s still operated by Betterhelp). Specialties include anxiety, depression, eating, sleeping, family conflicts, self-esteem and more.
First you’ll answer some questions about your name, age, general state of health, symptoms, lifestyle habits and your preferred way to communicate with your therapist. Betterhelp offers one plan, and the therapy comes down to $85 per week, so you’ll be charged $340 every four weeks. This includes weekly live sessions along with unlimited text, video and audio messaging.
Once you sign up and pay the $340 up front, you’ll be connected with a therapist who specializes in what you’re going through. Just like Talkspace, Betterhelp can be set up on a computer or through your phone. Services through the Betterhelp site are generally not covered by health insurance, Medicaid or Medicare. That being said, coverage differs with each health insurance company, so we recommend reaching out to your company to learn more. If the cost is a concern for you, Betterhelp does offer discounts for those facing financial challenges. Click here to get started with Betterhelp.