The verdict is in: Therapy is becoming more data-driven. Because of advancements in psychology metrics and the gradual spread of feedback-informed treatment [FIT], an increasing number of therapists are relying on data to improve their performance and clinical outcomes. There is already evidence that using data can decrease the number of clients who leave therapy or see a deterioration in their mental health.
But with some advances in a field comes resistance, criticism, anxiety, skepticism, division, and debate. The majority of in-person therapists do not use FIT or any formal system of data in their work. Some believe data has no place in something as artful, personal, and private as therapy. Every client and therapeutic relationship is different, so therapists are often not confident in the ability of data to account for this variance.
At Talkspace we are at the forefront of data-driven and online therapy. We frequently survey clients and use the confidential feedback to work with their therapists to improve the quality of treatment. Nonetheless, we understand the perspectives of therapists who are weary of big data’s role in therapy.
To start a positive and productive dialogue about the role of data in therapy, we sent our therapists this article about data-driven therapy. We asked them to read and respond with comments and constructive criticisms regarding the use of data and FIT in therapy. Continue reading Talkspace Therapists Weigh in on Data-Driven Therapy
Throughout Mental Health Month, we focused on ways to empower individuals to “light their way” to better mental health, happiness, and improved well-being. As part of this celebration, we profiled “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. To kick this series off, we caught up with Huffington Post founder and Thrive Global founder and CEO, Arianna Huffington.
Talkspace: You’ve been vocal about your history with burnout and exhaustion and “the fall” that precipitated a complete life overhaul. Can you talk a bit about what the state of your mental health was like as you were approaching this crucial turning point?
Arianna Huffington: When I collapsed, I’d just come off a week of very little sleep – having taken my daughter on a college tour, during which I was staying up late every night working. But my mental state was – I thought – fine. I’d done plenty of weeks like this in the past and so to me this was just a slightly more extreme version of business as usual. But that’s what exhaustion and sleep deprivation do to you – one of the many aspects of your physical and mental health that gets impaired is your own judgment about the state of your physical and mental health. So just because you feel like you’re doing fine on four or five or even six hours of sleep per night, it doesn’t mean you are. The science that tells us otherwise is much more reliable.
TS: At any point did you seek out help before this moment? If not, what was keeping you from getting it? Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Arianna Huffington
Classifying different types of anxiety attacks can be difficult. “Anxiety attack” is not an official clinical term. You won’t find it in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the handbook most mental health professionals reference. There is also the issue of both mental health clients and professionals confusing anxiety attacks and panic attacks.
“Anxiety attack” is a colloquial term clients created to describe intense or extended periods of anxiety. On a scale of intensity, an anxiety attack is between mild feelings of anxiety and a panic attack. Because of its frequency, many mental health professionals adopted it. To learn more about what an anxiety attack is and dispel any confusion, read our piece on anxiety attacks vs. panic attacks.
Unlike repeated panic attacks, anxiety attacks are not necessarily a sign of a mental health condition. If you are experiencing a lot of stress or going through a rough patch in life, it’s natural to have intense anxiety that occurs frequently. Experiencing many anxiety attacks without an apparent cause, however, can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.
Despite it not being an official clinical term, there are types of anxiety attacks. Many therapists recognize they are legitimate mental health issues. We decided to classify them based on the factors that determine how people experience an anxiety attack. Continue reading Different Types of Anxiety Attacks: Understanding the Factors
Before I started working as the Content Marketing Manager and Staff Writer at Talkspace, I was unemployed for about 11 weeks during the summer of 2015. After taking a historic financial hit, my parent company had to lay me off, along with almost everyone else in our startup.
As if it was some scene from “Up in the Air,” a woman who looked a bit like Anna Kendrick flew to our New York office, pulled me aside, and told me what I already knew was going to happen. It was all so blatantly unnecessary. Rather than feeling better after talking to her, I wondered why someone whose job it was to fire people was more important to the company than my coworkers and I. A letter or email would have sufficed.
The unemployment period was difficult and fraught with other unfortunate events. Bed bugs infested my apartment and pooped all over my bedroom walls. My building was able to handle the situation without kicking me out of the apartment, but it still took a financial and emotional toll on me. I had to throw out all of the sentimental items the bed bugs had crapped on, including a thoughtful gift my girlfriend had bought. Throwing everything out and buying new linens depleted a lot of my savings. Continue reading How Working at Talkspace Has Improved My Mental Health
As an adolescent in high school, I didn’t feel right.
I was always angry and miserable. I felt overwhelmingly sad and hopeless and alone. I spent an unnerving amount of time thinking about suicide. I would punch walls until my knuckles bled. I would have increasingly frequent mental breakdowns.
But I didn’t know why. And I didn’t know what to do about it.
Nobody I knew voiced that they felt similarly and I didn’t hear of anyone feeling extremely sad for no apparent reason. I hadn’t even heard of anyone I knew killing themselves. I thought the word “depressed” was simply a synonym for sad. I didn’t have an explanation for what was going on in my head. I felt completely trapped, with no one to talk to, no one who would understand.
Because I didn’t understand myself and couldn’t put words, terms, or definitions to how I felt, I would have regular panic attacks. At night when gloomy and confusing thoughts would take over, I’d sob and shake and sweat, my heart racing. I didn’t have an understanding of what was happening. I thought I was insane. Continue reading I Wasn’t in Therapy as a Kid, But I Should’ve Been
With the passage of the American Health Care Act in the House of Representatives, we may be approaching a mental health care crisis unlike anything seen before. Included in the bill is a provision to allow states to strike key provisions protecting Essential Health Benefits.
Whereas the percentage of uninsured once hovered around 16% of the nonelderly population, the ACA brought that figure down to 10.9% in 2015 — a record low. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that 24 million Americans will lose coverage by 2026 under the first replacement plan, 14 million in just the next year. Without giving the Budget Office time to score the new bill, the House passed the measure by a slim majority.
The bill will dramatically affect mental health parity — the historical divide between coverage requirements for mental and physical health — by allowing states to define Essential Health Benefits. Prior to the ACA, the lack of parity meant insurers could limit or deny coverage for mental health services, letting insurers limit the number of therapy sessions per year as well as treatment for substance abuse. The Essential Health Benefits of the ACA helped correct this discrepancy. Continue reading The Mental Health Impact of the AHCA (Trumpcare)
When he was six-years-old, I began noticing that something was a little off with my son, Alex. It was a nervousness and uneasiness — a caution that’s not typical of what should be a rambunctious, energetic first grader. At first I wrote it off as him being shy or an introvert like me. But by the time he was nine, I realized something deeper was going on. His anxiety was distressing, so we decided to seek professional help.
As a mental health nurse practitioner, I prescribe medications to adults on a daily basis. With my son, however, my husband and I took great pause in pursuing a medication regimen for him and putting pills in such a tiny body. Medications help for some people, along with appropriate lifestyle changes. Knowing the incredible efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating anxiety disorders, however, we decided to pursue this route instead. Continue reading I’m Glad I Sent My Son to Therapy
I’m no stranger to therapy and mental health help. Long before I faced my own mental health issues, my mother passed down stories of my grandmother, who spent most of her life battling the demons of drug-induced psychosis and what, in retrospect, seems to have been borderline personality disorder.
Later, my mother also opened up about her own struggles with depression, anxiety, and the post-traumatic stress she carried from her abusive childhood. Likewise, my oldest sister, my father, and many of my family friends talked frankly about their issues.
Naturally, this has a downside: there’s nothing like being six-years-old and realizing everybody around you has some serious issues. But it also offers some benefits. Mainly, I didn’t have to deal with the stigma when the time came for me to seek help for my own problems.
As you’ll see, by the time I was facing true despair, I’d already had years of experience with mental health professionals. My story will enlighten you on the experience of seeing a therapist while you’re still growing up and what we can accomplish for our children. Continue reading My Childhood Experience in Therapy
As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we shared stories that raised awareness about mental illness and empowered those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay
Recently I began experiencing symptoms of hypomania. I was irritable, had the sex drive of a teenage boy, and felt euphoric. I knew something was off with me. I hadn’t felt this way before, not to this extent. I contacted my psychiatrist and made an appointment. He confirmed that I was experiencing hypomania, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder type II.
It was a relief to know what was happening. Nonetheless, I was frightened because — unlike what the media portrays — mania isn’t fun. It’s exhausting and scary.
You do feel temporarily euphoric, at least I did. The feeling of mania is surreal and sometimes wonderful, but other times terrifying. It makes you feel out of sorts and a different version of yourself. I feel pressured to speak quickly, keep moving and keep doing things until my body can’t take it anymore. It’s awful and I don’t wish these feelings on anyone.
Mania isn’t wonderful. It’s a terrible feeling that impacts people living with bipolar disorder. Continue reading When I Knew I Had Bipolar Disorder
Talkspace is not yet available to people under 18-years-old. Nonetheless, we have a duty to provide mental health advice to parents of teens.
Parents know being a teenager can be stressful and anxiety-provoking. There is a barrage of tests, social pressures, and people constantly nagging teens about their future. It’s no wonder one in eight adolescents have an anxiety disorder.
If your teen is feeling stressed out, worried, and nervous about various aspects of life, they’re not alone. Anxiety is a feeling everyone experiences.
Chronic anxiety, however, whether it be seasonal, general, social, or specific phobia-related, is something that should be addressed. When anxiety begins to take a toll on day-to-day life and starts affecting social interactions and relationships, your teen could be suffering from an anxiety disorder.
Below are some steps your teen can take to get chronic anxiety or an anxiety disorder under control. Continue reading Steps Your Teen Can Take to Reduce Chronic Anxiety