NEW YORK, May 12, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Current models of mental health therapy fail more than 60 percent of those in need of treatment. In fact, President Obama has called treating psychological illness "an extraordinary challenge in our society." At the National Conference on Mental Health in 2013, the president noted that more than 45 million people are diagnosed with mental health issues each year, yet only 40 percent of them ever actually receive treatment.
To address this critical issue, Talkspace (formerly Talktala) invented and created "Unlimited Messaging Therapy," which enables patients to text with their professional, licensed therapist every day for a week or up to an entire year. Today, the company has announced a $2.5 million round of funding from Spark Capital, led by General Partner Alex Finkelstein, and SoftBank Capital, led by General Partner Jordan Levy. AOL President of Video Ran Harnevo will join the board. Additionally, Talkspace launched its updated website and new iOS app on May 5.
"Every one of us faces a crisis during our lives – it is the nature of the human condition," said Talkspace Co-founder and Head of Clinical Relations Roni Frank. "For too long, psychotherapy, which is incredibly beneficial, has suffered from prohibitively high costs and high stigma. We are removing those barriers quickly and effectively. We strongly believe this approach will democratize this valuable profession and help millions of people to access therapy and live better lives."
Talkspace Co-Founder and CEO Oren Frank said 50 million Americans are being referred to a therapist every year, but less than one-third are receiving the help they need, which is "simply insane."
"Five years ago a couples therapist literally saved our marriage," Frank said of his marriage to co-founder Roni Frank. "It is incredibly unlikely that our relationship would have survived if not for access to this service. Millions of Americans suffering with no access to help because of high cost and the stigma around therapy is a classic market failure situation - it is a massive mismatch between the huge demand for help and the widely available supply of talented therapists. The one-hour-a-week model just isn't enough anymore."
Talkspace reaches 50,000 patients and is growing rapidly. Patients can write as much as they want from their computers, iPhones or iPads to a professional therapist. They are allowed to remain anonymous, which makes it easier to overcome the stigma that causes shame in many cases. The new app complements its current Web and text message-based services, all of which allow for affordable, daily access to on-demand care.
"There is no question that when it comes to mental health, the general public is grossly underserved," said Finkelstein. "Talkspace offers a refreshing, modern-day solution to an old problem by allowing patients on-demand access to leading therapists through their mobile device or PC. We're excited to help this company grow as it uses affordability and accessibility to help treat one of the most pressing issues of our time."
Talkspace is comprised of a team of 40 professional therapists, including Dr. Iris Reitzes (PhD), the very same couples therapist that helped the Franks, and is being advised by clinical consultant Dr. Irvin D. Yalom, Chair (Emeritus) Stanford Psychiatry Department. To learn more about Talkspace, visit www.talkspace.com.
Founded in 2012, Talkspace offers therapy for how we live today – affordable anonymous therapy with professional licensed therapists, anytime and anyplace, through a mobile device or on the Web. Patients are always safe in a private space with a therapist who is waiting to help make a real difference. Funded by Spark Capital and SoftBank, Talkspace currently reaches 50,000 users. To learn more, visit www.talkspace.com.
ABOUT SPARK CAPITAL
Spark Capital is a venture capital firm that partners with exceptional entrepreneurs seeking to build disruptive, world-changing companies. Founded in 2005, the firm manages approximately $1,500,000,000 across four funds. Headquartered in Boston, Spark maintains an office in New York and invests across the globe. Spark Capital focuses on Internet and mobile investments across the following key categories: advertising & monetization, commerce & services, content & media, financial services, hardware & infrastructure, mobile and social. Some of Spark Capital's most notable investments include Adap.tv (acquired by AOL), AdMeld (acquired by Google), Oculus (acquired by Facebook), OMGPOP (acquired by Zynga), Tumblr (acquired by Yahoo!), and Twitter. For more information, visit www.sparkcapital.com.
ABOUT SOFTBANK CAPITAL
SoftBank Capital makes early and growth stage investments in companies that connect people, devices and the world. SoftBank Capital invests in category leaders in consumer and enterprise mobile, online advertising, ecommerce, social media and cloud computing. We have been making investments since 1995, with recent exits including Bluefin Labs, Buddy Media, Hyperpublic, Huffington Post, OMGPOP, Pivot and ZipList. To learn more, visit http://www.softbank.com.
SOURCE Spark Capital