Traditional methods of mental health therapy have experienced some disruption to its original methodology regarding treatment over the years. Recent innovations in technology has enabled counsellors to bypass the expensive route of one-to-one therapy sessions, making treatment much more accessible to a wider populace.
Traditional therapy is great for those who can afford it, but with more ways for couch therapists to connect with clients, the cost of seeking help is reduced significantly. This essentially means more help for more people who need it.
Roni Frank, who co-founded Talkspace, connects people to therapists via text or videoing. “Traditional therapy is a 2 percent service,” she says. “If you have the money, the time, and the access, it’s great.”
She added that recent studies show that one in five Americans suffers from mental health issues each year, which roughly adds up to 42 million people. To make matters worse, 70 percent of those 42 million Americans have no access to psychotherapist services at all.
To help bridge the gap for therapy disparity, Jeremy Fischbach, a Princeton psychology graduate, launched his app Happy with a similar passion for giving people a more natural way to connect with emotional support right away. Users in need of emotional support can use the app to talk to a trained listener. “We believe emotional support is the foundation of mental health, and believe strongly that a lot of everyday people are extremely good at providing emotional support,” he says. But rather than a replacement for traditional therapy, he sees it as a companion to it.
Technology also features the added benefit of data analysis, and it becomes easier to see what’s working and what’s not. The team at Happy tracks which “listeners” are most successful with different types of callers. For example, one listener may be more proficient in dealing with breakups while others are better suited to help those suffering from an anxiety attack.
Technology is merging with mental health in ways that many wouldn’t expect. Accessibility is key to make therapy a viable option for millions suffering in silence and if we can solve that piece of the puzzle, then it’s safe to say that we’re on the right path to recovery.