As a public medical health crisis continues to sweep the globe, it has caused a significant spike in the mental health crisis that was here long before coronavirus arrived stateside. It is estimated that over 50 percent of Americans are living with a mental illness, and that 57.2 percent of those adults received no treatment in 2019. The pandemic and subsequent daily quarantine have only exacerbated those issues — with widespread physiological trauma growing from daily death tolls, isolation, and more — leaving those statistics to skew even worse.
It's with this in mind that Talkspace, the leading digital talk therapy platform, has decided to push forth a new initiative not only to destigmatize therapy, but also to inspire folks to show up for themselves and their mental health by exploring treatment options within the practice. On Wednesday, September 9th, Talkspace introduced singer, songwriter, and activist Demi Lovato as its partner in this initiative, aiming to help those struggling with access to same-day care from licensed therapists and psychiatrists.
This partnership comes on the heels of several initiatives Talkspace has introduced in response to the heightened need for digital therapy solutions. Talkspace has donated 2,100 free months of therapy to frontline medical workers, opened a variety of free tools to provide support and guidance including therapist-led support channels for those impacted by COVID-19 and racial injustices, and expanded in-home access with its Amazon Alexa skill integration, offering even more ways to access mental health care.
“It’s important for me to use my voice and platform in a meaningful way," Lovato shared in a press release. "I’m grateful to join the Talkspace family to make mental health care more accessible and help change the way we talk about mental health. My journey to becoming an advocate has not been easy, but I am glad that I can help people out there struggling to gain access to resources that could help to improve or even save lives.”
Lovato has long been an advocate for mental health, as she has experienced several highs and lows in the public eye over the past decade. In a recent personal essay for Vogue, she opened up about her own experiences with depression, her anxiety spiking due to "uncertainty surrounding the pandemic," and how she had grown up ashamed of living with mental illnesses. "It has shone a spotlight on mental health in a way like never before," Lovato shared of the pandemic in Vogue. "For so many years, mental illness was seen as shameful."
Since mid-March, when strict lockdowns began to take effect in the U.S., Talkspace has doubled its intake volume year-over-year, showing the clear and rising demand for these digital mental health services. While it may not be the "traditional" in-person appointment you see on television and in movies, Talkspace is easy and safe, connecting people with a network of thousands of licensed therapists and psychiatrists through its HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. After getting matched with a therapist, within 24 hours you're able not only to engage in live video sessions, but send your therapists text, video, and voice messages at any time — not just when you have a session on the calendar.
Much like its big celebrity partnership with olympic swimmer Michael Phelps in 2018, it's the hope of Talkspace that, through partnering with Lovato — someone so publicly vulnerable and honest about the ebbs and flows of mental health — that others will follow suit in getting the help that they need.
"Having honest and real conversations about mental health is one of the most effective ways to destigmatize this space — it lets people know that we are all struggling from time to time, and that it’s completely normal and part of the human condition," Roni Frank, Talkspace Co-Founder & Head of Clinical Services, tells NYLON over email.
"When we identify partners, especially given our current realities, we look for honest supporters whose intention is to help everyone get the mental health care they need and are willing to use their own story and platform to share this message. We have always admired Demi as she's been honest with her community about her own struggles, and we hear time and again how much her strength and authenticity has impacted the lives of her fans and community."
“From my time as a child actor and singer to growing up in the public eye — I’ve tried to remain true to myself and honest with my fans by sharing my story of struggle, hoping that whoever needs to hear it finds solace and inspiration for their own journey," said Lovato. "What I admire most about Talkspace is their mission to provide Therapy for All and bring more awareness to the importance of mental and behavioral health. We’re all dealing with our own struggles, so it’s important to arm ourselves with the right resources to not only live and manage — but thrive — every day."