The need for therapists in the United States is currently at an all-time high, with the latest data from the CDC showing about 40% of adults in the country are struggling to find help for their substance abuse or mental health issues because of a therapist shortage. With no physical providers of the services they seek nearby, most are turning to online sources to meet their needs.
Numerous digital mental health companies, such as BetterHelp, which offers access to therapy sessions, have been launched these last few years. These companies often receive backing from venture capital firms and provide a range of services, including coaching videos, supportive texting, drug prescriptions, and group and one-on-one video therapy sessions with licensed therapists.
While these companies may be helping people, without sufficient data to evaluate, veterans’ officials and therapists are skeptical about the effectiveness of online providers of these mental health services. However, others disagree.
For instance, Talkspace chief medical officer Dr. Varun Choudhary stated that online companies helped patients who faced cultural, financial and accessibility barriers to conventional therapy, adding that some clients liked the convenience of receiving care in the comfort of their homes. Talkspace is a mobile and online-based therapy provider offering services across all states in the country. Choudhary also intimated that the company expanded its capacity to deliver treatment by bringing patients together on its teletherapy platform.
Research also suggests that therapy administered online is as effective as in-person therapy. However, evidence to support the effectiveness of this and similar services is scarce.
Additionally, some mental health professionals are concerned about online therapy companies whose clinicians prescribe psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, that have potentially dangerous side effects or substances such as Adderall, which are addictive if abused.
Federal law requires that clinicians see a patient in person before they prescribe such tightly regulated drugs, which can easily be abused. However, this requirement was waived during the early stages of the pandemic.
Furthermore, the rapid surge of this online industry continues to worry some traditional mental health professionals who are concerned about whether patient care may be compromised by insufficient training. Some professionals are concerned that these online companies may require their therapists to go through training on how to deliver effective, safe and ethical therapy online. This may be detrimental to patients, with some professionals noting that professional or government regulation that would protect consumers is almost nonexistent.
As the debate about the effectiveness and necessity of online companies delivering mental health services rages on, companies such as Cybin Inc. (NYSE American: CYBN) (NEO: CYBN) are focused on coming up with therapeutics that can deliver better clinical outcomes for the myriads of patients who aren’t being helped by the existing mental health treatments.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cybin Inc. (NEO: CYBN) (NYSE American: CYBN) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/CYBN
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