Mental health-focused telemedicine company Talkspace has raised $15 million in a funding round led by Norwest Venture Partners. Existing investors Spark Capital, Soft Bank, Metamorphic Ventures, and TheTime, also contributed.
“We’ve eliminated a lot of the barriers that prevent people from getting help in the first place by delivering therapy via messaging -- and, the biggest has been reducing the stigma,” Roni Frank, co-founder and Head of Clinical Services at Talkspace, said in a statement. “However, as our user base grew, we saw new demand for more ways to communicate with therapists. We are excited to see people gravitate toward this modality of receiving therapy, and the new injection of funds will allow us to continue innovating our technology while bringing mental health care to millions of people each year.”
Talkspace originally embraced asynchronous messaging for its offering, but has since added options for video and audio visits with therapists as well. According to the company, over the past year it has expanded its network of therapists to more than 1,000. Over the lifetime of the company, Talkspace has reached 300,000 patients.
Consumers can sign up on Talkspace's website to receive a free consultation with a therapist, and after a preliminary assessment, they are paired with a therapist. The company then offers unlimited chat and mobile messaging with the therapist for $25 per week or one 30 minute video therapy session for $49.
This round brings the startup's total funding to $28 million. They raised $9.5 million in May 2015, $1 million in January 2015, and $2.5 million in May 2014. The company also announced a new hire, Dr. Linda Sacco, who will join as Vice President of Behavioral Health Service. She comes to Talkspace after a 6-month stint at New York nonprofit provider Brightpoint Health. Before that she spent 10 years as the behavioral health services administrator at the Jersey City Medical Center.
Talkspace has been working to prove out the efficacy of its intervention. At the end of last year, the company launched a trial with Columbia University and planned to do another at Duke University.
"We’re looking at the efficiency and the efficacy of our modality, which is primarily based on text messaging," Cofounder and CEO Oren Frank told MobiHealthNews at the time. "[We're looking at] how it can do well against specific conditions, with the focus on managing anxiety, depression, and stress, the three leading factors in the influx of mental health on the population today. [The Columbia] study has actually already begun, and we hope to see the results within a few months. I’d say it’s a first of its kind study, both in the scale and the focus on the modality that we have developed."
In addition, the company announced in April that it would launch an initiative to donate some of its services to those who can't afford the site's rates.
"Talkspace is pledging a special donation of 500 months of free, online therapy a year provided to low-income people in need and sponsored entirely by Talkspace," Talkspace cofounder and Head of Clinical Services said at an event in April. "Mental healthcare is not a privilege for the rich, it's a right."