Talk Therapy App Helps People Confront Social Media Dependence

By Victoria Kim 03/03/17

One popular mental health app offers a 12-week "social media rehab" to users. 

Woman holding phone.

Mobile apps that aim to help your mental health are gaining popularity—and for good reason. They’re more affordable than a real life therapist, and you can take the support on-the-go with your smartphone.

One of these new offerings is Talkspace, which offers therapy sessions via video chat or text message for about $25 per session. 

Writer Juno DeMelo wrote in New York Magazine about her experience with Talkspace’s "social media rehab"—a 12-week program costing about $33 per week. 

“I don’t know what constitutes an addict, but I look at Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at stoplights, while I’m watching TV, as I’m waiting for onions to caramelize, and nearly every time I lose steam during the workday, which is often,” writes DeMelo, who quit the program after two months.

DeMelo began messaging with Nicole, a licensed mental health counselor, with the goal of logging onto each platform no more than once per day. It’s difficult to balance online and real life relationships, she says, and she has misgivings about oversharing. 

There’s been much research and discussion about the negative impact of social media on our mental health. A 2016 study from the University of Pittsburgh School of the Health Sciences found that the more time young adults use social media, the more likely they are to be depressed.

Obsessing over one’s virtual identity can lead to the “distorted belief that others may lead happier, more exciting, and more successful lives,” according to Medical News Today

Having a constant window into other people’s lives leads us to “compare and despair”—something that DeMelo was able to work through in social media rehab.

“A lot of my online problems are similar to my [real life] ones—feeling unloved, overwhelmed, busy-bored, and anxious—and they probably aren’t going away anytime soon,” writes DeMelo. “Milton taught me that the mind can make a hell of any space, digital or otherwise.”

Ultimately, though it wasn’t perfect, Talkspace’s social media program helped DeMelo “work through stuff I’d feel silly paying a co-pay for.” 

“With each interaction, I do become a little more self-aware,” she writes. “[Nicole] helped me see how important it was that I do something to stop making myself so miserable.”

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr