ALL Ways: Talkspace Lets Everyone Feel All the Feels in a Convenient Digital Platform for Mental Health Care

by S. Creastam

Constantly running around doesn’t give people much time to think. Actually, sitting and doing nothing also isn’t a sure way to give people much time to think. Congested thoughts mostly have less to do with the amount of time people have to think, and more to do with dysregulation or overwhelm. For this reason, self-care evolved into a greater overall practice in society. Especially with rising patterns such as the Great Resignation, the upcoming generations are rearranging their priorities and expectations. Mental health is a top priority.

In this series, called ALL Ways, we’ll grow to know social enterprises by their charming points. We say “charming” to refer to branding and approaches that help us see another way to manage social entrepreneurship. We’ll also suggest ways to interact or use these charming points in our own involvements with social enterprise (personally and professionally).

This post is an outside observation of a company for inspiration in social enterprise interaction and engagement.

In today’s post, we look into mental health advocate Talkspace securing a safe place to access therapy digitally. Talkspace is a tech platform connecting professional therapists to people seeking assistance with mental health concerns.

Knowing the Company

Talkspace helps people start therapy conveniently to take care of their mental health. Professional therapists are only a message, call, or video chat away, as the platform seeks to provide a timely connection to help. Sessions are organized into four categories of therapy: individuals, Couples, Teens, Psychiatry. People can use any of the health insurance companies on the Talkspace partners list, like Cigna, to cover session costs. In their own word:

“Talkspace helps you engage with a licensed, dedicated therapist; anytime, anywhere.”

How it works is that the person seeking assistance will complete a brief assessment. Results from the assessment match the person with a therapist that will meet that person for a therapy session. Talkspace contains a network of telehealth professionals that are listed as therapists and prescribers. If the person later wants to request a specific telehealth professional, Talkspace makes it a point to try accommodating personal preferences when possible.

Anyone interested can gain access to this resource in two primary ways: Insurance Benefits or EAP (Employee Assistance Programs).

Despite the immense flexibility, there is one aspect that Talkspace is very clear about separating for the safety of everyone:

“Talkspace is not a crisis or hotline service. If you are in an emergency or life-threatening situation, call 911*.”

What Surprised Us

Honestly, the surprise here is not what does or doesn’t exist in the initiative. The surprise is the commitment to execute on initiative values. Being in an industry that is intimate and vulnerable means that privacy is expected in all cases. Talkspace is very big on communicating their dedication to privacy. Here is how they describe their approach on the coverage redemption page:

“Our platform is certified to be HIPAA compliant and your safety is our number one priority. All of your chat data is encrypted on the servers, and all communication between our software and the servers is encrypted.”

Remember the disclaimer about emergency cases? Instead of leaving people to fully fend for themselves, Talkspace offers information and resources on who to contact if someone finds themselves “in a life-threatening situation“. It’s listed at the bottom of their site. Surely they don’t put it there as strict guidance. However, if a person didn’t know where to go, at least they would have a place to start thanks to the resources at the bottom of the Talkspace site.

Talkspace for Business is another side of the platform working with employers, health plans, and schools to make mental health care more affordable and available. It’s hard to pass up on an option when there are so many ways to participate. There is even a student plan to give a student discount on sessions.

For anyone looking to invest in social good, Talkspace is an opportunity to invest in a virtual behavioral health company. Find the initiative traded publicly on NASDAQ, and read up on information on their investment aspect.

Speaking of money, Talkspace uses the recently popular business model of subscriptions. On a FAQ about cost, Talkspace writes:

“Talkspace members are automatically charged on a recurring basis, which is chosen at sign-up – either monthly, quarterly or biannually. There are no contracts whatsoever, and you can cancel your subscription at any time!”

It’s not that subscriptions are a new business model. It’s that subscriptions are used much more widely than the magazine subscriptions from years ago. Why not make payments for mental health care as seamless as a streaming service subscription?

What is the benefit for good

Mental health impacts every life, yet it is such a concern that is not easily seen or measured. On the official Talkspace site, the initiative says around 80% of their audience “found Talkspace to be as effective or more effective than traditional therapy”. Data also showed that 98% of their audience “found Talkspace to be more convenient than traditional therapy”.

Ensuring that multiple communities can utilize Talkspace, the team incorporates solid accessibility into their digital space. They dedicate a page to an accessibility statement. Talkspace doesn’t work on this alone. Another initiative is the partner of Talkspace in providing accessible digital experiences, which is stated on the same accessibility page:

“To accomplish this, we have partnered with eSSENTIAL Accessibility to administer our accessibility program and oversee its governance. Their accessibility program evaluates and audits our digital products on an ongoing basis in accordance with best practices and is supported by a diverse team of accessibility professionals, including users of assistive technologies.”

What’s Next

We like to encourage actively participating with positive initiatives. Each person making their own choice to participate adds up! Whether you engage for fun, inspiration, or expression, here are our suggestions for engaging this initiative:

(Personal)

– Offer a gift card for a friend that may want to try the service or find it useful.

– Keep Talkspace in mind as a recommendation if a friend or loved one mentions any signs of mental health concerns.

(Professional)

-If you pay close attention, you’ll see that Talkspace uses many subdomains based on the audience for each landing page. Even the menu options are different between the business page, Talkspace insurance redemption, and the student plan. Examine if your initiative would benefit from creating separate layouts for the stakeholders in your impact ecosystem.

People Helping People Podcast is seeking methods clearly supporting an effective impact. Observations and discussions on happenings in the social enterprise community are a significant part of our contribution to social good. Continue to check in for more conversation-starting content.

Relevant podcast episodes:

Ever Widening Circles Part II: Gratitude Economy

Jen O’Ryan of Double Tall Helps Company Staff Expand their Worldview by Sharing Perspectives in a Safe Space

Relevant blog posts:

Feeling Unmotivated? Here are 8 Self-care Tips to Regain Your Motivation Now

5 Meaningful Tips to Create Authentic Conversations and Develop Connections

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