Talkspace is Revolutionizing Telepsychiatry

If you want a good example of how real-time communications can revolutionize healthcare, look no further than the telepsychiatry app for mental health, Talkspace.

The telepsychiatry startup just received $15 million of Series B funding for its innovative online therapy platform that promises to remake the mental health services landscape.

Mental health services access is a huge problem both in the U.S. and globally. Roughly 20 percent of Americans suffer from some form of mental health issue, according to Talkspace co-founder, Roni Frank. Depression is the number one cause of suicide in the U.S., and there are 25 million Americans diagnosed with depression each year, she told an audience at the Future of Therapy conference earlier this year. This is more than heart disease, cancer and HIV combined.

Yet, 70 percent of all Americans suffering from mental health issues have no access to services for treatment. Talkspace looks to use telemedicine technology to change that.

For a comparatively insignificant $32 per week (billed monthly), Talkspace users get unlimited access to a licensed mental health professional via chat. They can talk with their therapist as much as they want through chat, and there are also more comprehensive packages that include asynchronous voice and video messaging. Things like group therapy are being rolled out, too.

The service has more than 300,000 users and upwards of 1,000 specialists offering services through the platform, according to TechCrunch.

Improving Mental Health Services

Talkspace has the potential to truly revolutionize how mental health services are provided. Not only does the platform make telepsychiatry services dramatically more affordable, but it also brings access when services are most needed. Which is to say, any time a person is struggling and needs help or guidance.

Further, offering telepsychiatry services through an app reduces the stigma of therapy. Nobody needs to know a person is getting help via the service, addressing one of the big challenges that keep people from getting the care they need.

“The stigma is dangerous,” said Frank. “Because of stigma, people prefer to suffer in silence. To ignore themselves and their needs. To live in pain. And, as a result, their health is getting worse and worse.”

Talkspace is an ideal example of how real-time communications both is a business opportunity and a catalyst for making the world a better place.

As a society, we’re just getting comfortable with video chat, and only now are we starting to wake up to the possibilities that come from connecting people in real-time no matter the geography. There is both business opportunity from rolling this real-time interactivity into as yet unimagined services, and lots of ways it can improve the world around us. From telepsychiatry and other telemedicine applications to improving language learning and customer service through video chat, embedded real-time communications is a significant revolutionary force that’s just now starting to make its presence felt. Talkspace is a great example of how we will use this technological force for good.

“Talkspace is solving one of the most pressing problems in this country, and in fact all over the world,” Frank noted at the Future of Therapy conference.

The company is an inspiration. Not only is the company “crushing it” from a business perspective, an entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk might say, it also prompts the question of how we can make a similar impact. Talkspace is shaking up telepsychiatry, but what else? Where else can we use the connective power of real-time communications for dramatic change and social benefit?

There are a lot of problems in the world. This means there also are lots of opportunities for improving it through creativity, innovation and new telemedicine technology.

Talkspace is one example. What’s your example? How will you change the world for the better?