NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Talkspace, a leading provider of tele-mental health services, announced it has been awarded two grants - nearly $4 million from the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and a $3 million NIH R01 grant - to examine the experiences of tele-mental health and tele-therapy services for patients. As America experiences a mental health crisis with limited accessibility to in-person behavioral health services due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, this unprecedented research will provide deep insight into the efficacy and impact of tele-therapy.
Talkspace will partner with the University of Washington’s School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, a major leader in the field of digital health and therapy, and Mental Health America, the nation’s leading mental health advocacy organization, for the projects.
“At a time when America’s mental health is in crisis, it is crucial experts find the most optimal solution for patients, including how they seek therapy, and the various forms of care and treatment available,” said Neil Leibowitz, Chief Medical Officer at Talkspace. “At Talkspace, we are committed to making therapy accessible and affordable to help those in need live a happier and healthier life. We are proud to join hands with the National Institute of Mental Health and research partners, Mental Health America and the University of Washington, to examine digital therapy tools and research how to improve treatment and outcomes to support the mental health of millions of Americans.”
The SBIR grant will support research over four years that compares daily messaging-only therapy to once weekly live video session therapy in a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effectiveness of the different forms of care. The project will track outcomes, engagement, ratings of the therapist, type of treatment provided, and other important variables between the two forms of care to see if there are any differences. Both projects will be HIPAA compliant and patient information will be de-identified to protect the privacy of all patients participating.
“When we make mental health services easier to access, more people can get the preventive support early on so that they can avoid a crisis,” said Paul Ginofriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America. “The pandemic has shown us that teletherapy works, and we need to make this the standard, not the exception.”
"People have struggled for decades to find proper treatment for depression and anxiety. Message-based care has great potential to be the solution, and I am excited to partner with Talkspace to study this further,” said Dr. Pat Areán, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the UW School of Medicine.
Additionally, Talkspace, in conjunction with the University of Washington’s School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and Mental Health America, will investigate the traits of individuals who benefit most from digital therapy and identify ways to personalize the onboarding and orientation process to enhance client motivation and improve treatment completion and outcomes. Led by Tim Althoff, assistant professor of computer science at UW Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, the project will first develop sophisticated computational tools to better understand the route(s) people take when they start experiencing mental health challenges and are considering therapy. The findings will be used to help more people feel prepared to benefit from support including therapy and explore the optimal dose of digital mental health.
Talkspace has long been the leader in research on digital, message-based therapy, having published several studies to date on innovative approaches to delivering therapy. These studies helped to prepare the way for this grant award and further solidifies Talkspace's position as a thought leader and its commitment to providing effective and quality mental healthcare.
Talkspace is a digital platform that connects thousands of licensed therapists and psychiatrists with people seeking mental healthcare. As a digital healthcare company, all care is delivered through an easy-to-use and HIPAA-compliant web and mobile platform. Today, the need for care feels more urgent than ever, and when seeking treatment, whether it's psychiatric, adolescent, or couples therapy, Talkspace has treatment options for almost every need. With Talkspace, clients can send their dedicated therapists text, video, and voice messages anytime, from anywhere, and engage in live video sessions. To date, over 2 million people have used the service, and over 40 Million lives are covered for Talkspace through insurance.