NYC partners with Talkspace for teen mental health program
Talkspace (TALK) signed a $26 million dollar contract with New York City to offer free tele-mental health services for teenagers aged 13-17. The service is called “Teenspace” and makes “therapy and mental health education available at no cost to any NYC teenager, regardless of income, insurance status, and where or whether they attend school,” according to Talkspace. Talkspace CEO Dr. Jon Cohen joins the Live show along with Yahoo Finance Senior Reporter Anjalee Khemlani to discuss the details behind the contract with NYC and how the program will operate with teens in the city.
“22% of teenagers have seriously considered suicide and 10% have actually attempted to commit death by suicide. 57% of teen girls find their life to be sad or just incredibly hopeless. In the last year, 20-25% of teenage girls have visited the emergency room for increasing mental health crises,” Dr. Cohen says, affirming the serious need for this program: “If you put that together with what’s going on and the social media addiction that you’ve heard from the Surgeon General, the crisis is very, very real.
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AKIKO FUJITA: All teenagers in New York City now have access to free virtual mental health support. Talkspace, an online therapy company, launching free virtual mental health services this month to more than 400,000 adolescents and teens. The program dubbed Teen Space is the largest teen mental health initiative in the country.
For more on this, let’s bring in Jon Cohen– he’s Talkspace CEO– as well as our very own Anjalee Khemlani joining in on the conversation here. Jon, it’s good to talk to you today. Talk to me about how this all came about. Why specifically focus on New York City?
JON COHEN: Well, I think you look back probably since the beginning when Mayor Adams took office, he made it clear that mental health was a huge issue that he needed to address in the city. So there’s been a whole slew of mental health initiatives that he’s launched. One of them would be the– was gonna be how they address the issues for teens because, as you know, there is a huge mental health crisis in the teens around the nation.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: Jon, Anjalee here. I wonder if you could tell us about how this relationship came to be. I know that for years, the teen mental health space has been one that many companies have tried to get into. And all have tried routes by maybe linking up with school districts and trying to get funding there or just relying on investors.
And so this route using city funds through the health department seems to be a new avenue and one that could get you further along in establishing a program. How did that conversation start?
JON COHEN: Well, the conversation started because the mayor, as I said, expressed significant interest. He expressed interest through the commissioner of health through the New York City and then through the commissioner of mental health– deputy commissioner of mental health. And they began to look out to see what they could do to provide something really different to New York City than had been provided for most other cities around the country.
I just wanna, you know, reiterate so you know. You know, 22% of teenagers have seriously considered suicide. And 10% have actually committed– attempted to commit death through suicide. 57% of teen girls find their life to be sad or just incredibly hopeless.
In the last year, 20%, 25% of teenage girls have visited the emergency room for mental health, increasing mental health crisis. So if you put that together with what’s going on in the social media addiction that you’ve heard from the surgeon general, the crisis is very, very real.
So these conversations began to happen. We talked about what Talkspace could offer, which is very, very– which is very different than most other virtual mental health companies. And that’s how it actually began.
ANJALEE KHEMLANI: I wonder, does this take you on the path? I know you’ve projected breaking even by 2024. How does this affect that projection?
JON COHEN: Well, we have– so Talkspace has been around for 13 years. It’s a big brand. As you know, the market for telehealth mental health is just enormous given the interest and the need from employers and universities and colleges, and of course, schools, and teenagers.
So we made a decision that we have two big lines of business at Talkspace. One is you get therapy through your health insurer. We have 112 million covered lives. We’re the largest telehealth mental health provider in the country that is in network.
So in other words, if you come to Talkspace and need therapy, chances are you’re covered, so it doesn’t cost you anything, or you have a small out-of-pocket co-pay. The other part of the business is direct enterprise, which is what the schools fall into. So the schools, colleges, universities, large and small employers will frequently put Talkspace on as an added benefit so that people can have better and quicker access to mental health support.
As far as Talkspace, yes, you’ve seen our guidance. We have guided that we will break even by the end of Q1 of next year, which is four months away. And in addition, we’ll have $120 million or more of cash on hand. So we have a very little, if any, cash burn at this point.
So we’ve put ourselves in a very, very good position to both have the cash that we’ll need to do other investments, M&A, et cetera, and at the same time to continue to significantly grow the business on the two verticals that I just talked about.