Here's the Deal on Therapy Apps

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If anything was going to play hell with our collective mental health, COVID-19 has delivered on all fronts. The combination pandemic/economic crisis/political meltdown of the past year has rocketed existing stress levels to astronomic heights, and let's be real — it's not like we were doing super great before. Access to mental health care should be easy and affordable, and in some ways, it looks like Silicon Valley might truly be stepping up.

You've probably seen or heard ads for therapy apps like Talkspace, which promises a lower-cost alternative to in-person counseling. It's true that finding a therapist can be a huge hassle, and an expensive one, but as a new feature story from ​The Cut​ makes plain, outsourcing your mental health care to an Uber-style startup may not be the best thing for either your troubles or your therapist.

Research has shown that some mindfulness apps can take the edge off pandemic-related stressors, but we can't rely on Spotify playlists and streaming nature sounds to help us cope with an objectively traumatic mass event like COVID. It's no wonder so many of us are turning to alcohol or losing the ability to daydream.

The Cut​'s reporting emphasizes that any app- or subscription-based therapy is best thought of as a complement (and an expensive one) to working with a dedicated mental health professional, rather than a substitute. It's true that there are systemic, very real problems with access to psychological care in the U.S. But if you want a look at the other side of all the therapy apps' marketing, read the whole article here.