General

E-therapy Provider Talkspace Under Fire, CEO Oren Frank Responds

Talkspace, one of the latest attempts to try and provide online therapy (a modality available to people since 1996), is under fire yet again. This time it comes from Cat Ferguson writing over at The Verge, questioning Talkspace's patient anonymity protections and the use of freelance therapists to staff their service.

The article, published last week, is based upon first-hand accounts of presentations, emails, and interviews with numerous Talkspace therapists. And despite Talkspace's insistence that therapists are freelancers, the firm apparently forbade therapists from talking to the reporter -- an odd directive if the company isn't your boss.

Let's see what The Verge discovered -- and get exclusive responses from Talkspace's CEO.

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Brain and Behavior

Suddenly, VC Guy Notices Mental Health Care

The quality and resources available to mental health care and treatment in the United States has been on the downswing since the 1980s. It started with the closing of government-run state psychiatric hospitals (putting our most at-need patients at risk, and often, on the streets), without the government offering a comprehensive network of community-based care to take their place.

Then managed care -- companies driven by profit and greed -- came along and mid-level managers with no mental health background started dictating exactly what kind of mental health treatment was appropriate to which patients.

Now we live in a time where venture capital (VC) firms believe that technology can magically solve many of the ills connected with receiving high-quality, timely mental health care. But of course, like the managed care companies that came before them, many too are simply driven by potential profits and their return on investment, all the while offering the "solution" of lower-quality, shoddier care.

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General

On the Destructive Belief That No One Can Make Us Feel Anything

When I studied psychology back in the day, Fritz Perls was very popular. I felt a new sense of empowerment reading his compelling writing about “owning” the self and developing radical self-reliance -- moving from environment support to self-support.

Perls’ views may have been what the doctor ordered when social values encouraged being agreeable and placating others rather than honoring our experience (our feelings and wants) and staying connected to ourselves. Perls cajoled, jolted, and perhaps even shamed people into becoming self-reliant and self-sufficient. One popular view was “No one has or ever will make you feel anything.”

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General

Got Insurance? You’re Going to Have a Frustrating Wait for Rationed Mental Health Care

Yet again, insurance companies are getting away with rationing mental health care in America and treating mental disorders unequally when compared to physical conditions. And nobody seems to be listening -- or care.

We thought we had this problem licked with the historic passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, a law that banned insurance companies from discriminating against people with mental illness.

Unfortunately, insurance companies just found new ways to deny patients care for their mental health conditions -- through rationing access to service providers.

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Anxiety and Panic

Mental Illness Is More than ‘Worried Wellness’

“So what kind of work do you do in your private practice?” asked a colleague.

“I specialize in depression, anxiety, relationship problems, work-life issues, and low self-esteem,” I explained.

“Ah,” he said with a knowing smile. “The worried well.”

I cringed when I heard this. My patients would cringe, too, if they heard themselves referred to in this dismissive way. But it happens all too often.
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Books

3 Strategies for Supporting a Loved One with Depression

Your loved one has depression. Maybe they’re isolating themselves. Maybe their energy and mood have taken a nosedive. Maybe they’re irritable and angry. Maybe they aren’t enjoying much, if anything, anymore. Maybe they’re having a hard time concentrating or remembering things. Maybe they’ve mentioned feeling hopeless or worthless. Maybe they make negative comments about themselves. All. The. Time. Maybe they wear a happy face, but you know they’re struggling.

And, understandably, it’s really hard to watch. Because all you want to do is fix their pain. To make it go away. To make it all better.
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Books

Awesome Mental Health Resources You Probably Didn’t Know About

We come across a lot of announcements for this new thing or that, and most of it is garbage. We do, however, like to promote ideas that we feel offer a valuable community service to both mental health consumers and professionals alike.

I've discovered two awesome mental health resources you probably didn't know about, both of which are absolutely free. Whether you like mental health and psychology apps, or psychology and mental books, one of these services can have the potential to change your life.

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Depression

Why Self-Care is Essential

Most of us will suffer from depression at some point. It could be triggered by a traumatic event, such as a relationship breakup, the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. Or it could take the form of experiencing a gradual decline in your enjoyment of life, and a general feeling that things will never get better.

When we sink into the black hole of depression, it can sometimes be hard to get out again. Our waking life may seem so bleak that we seek refuge in sleeping in late and staying in bed all day. But the more we give in to the dark side of depression, the harder it can be to overcome it. Being severely depressed for long periods of time is a terrible way to live. So what can you do if the black dog has got you down?

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Psychotherapy

Who Can Benefit From Individual Therapy?

If you're thinking of meeting with a psychotherapist, you might have a general feeling that you want to try therapy but not be sure exactly what a therapist is going to do for you. You might even wonder, "Can I really get that much out of talking to a therapist?"

The short answer is: yes. Everyone stands to gain from reflecting on their lives and improving their coping skills.

But there's one group of people who have a problem that is an especially good for therapy. I'm talking about people who feel they need another perspective.
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Brain and Behavior

How to Use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Once we understood the brain as a fixed, static entity. Now we see it as a changeable, growing organ. This should give much encouragement to those who feel limited by their beliefs that they are somehow stuck in habitual patterns of thinking, since the brain itself can be rewired because of its neuroplasticity.

Before brain imaging was possible, many psychotherapists were already using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help people reframe their experiences and learn to modulate emotions and thoughts to rewire their brain into healthier patterns. The idea behind the method is that “you become what you practice.”
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