Do your research if you’re deciding to use a mental health tech company, your privacy and wellbeing could be at risk

Big tech companies using apps and other platforms

Being transparent, while I’m writing this article… I’m using a vague description, and not naming any companies, to protect myself. There are a few companies that come to mind.

These companies are not owned by mental health professionals. The companies act more as a therapist directory or as a way to link you to a therapist.

People pay a fee to join a membership and then get “matched” with a therapist. The company pockets most of the money (or spends it on bombarding you with advertisements on social media and Google), not appropriately reimbursing the therapists.

If you’re thinking of one of these companies and questioning whether it’s legitimate, a rip off, that it could be taking advantage of people, or raising ethical red flags, then you could be right.

If you’re a mental health professional reading this, let’s work together to continue to spread awareness of big tech moving into our field and the potential harm that it’s causing.

The unethical situations are not good for therapists’ and clients’ wellbeing. Let’s push for higher standards and quality of these companies. They have potential to really help both therapists and clients.

If you’re reading this and are considering using an app/tech company to support your mental health, make sure you do your research and read the fine print, for your protection, before signing up.

Major concerns that come to mind

Do your research and read the fine print. Read reviews written by therapists and people receiving services. There are a lot of negative reviews out there (positive ones, as well. Though, I’m concerned that some reviews are “planted” or paid.). Read through the terms or service, policies, and privacy practices.

YOUR “PRIVACY” ISN’T ACTUALLY PRIVATE if you’re using certain mental health apps or tech companies. As a third party, the company may collect your information. If you’re concerned about privacy, find out from the company what information they collect and what they do with it.

Since (around) 2020, mental health professionals have experienced and heard bothersome stories about these companies.

Therapists are underpaid and asked to break their codes of ethics, in some cases.

Therapist burnout.

Boundaries between clients and therapists. A lack of boundaries of how frequently a client can contact their therapist (and via text) could lead to the person becoming dependent on their therapist. A goal of therapy is to teach the client skills so that they can be on their own. Not have their therapist in their pocket.

Privacy and ethical concerns around texting clients.

Smaller private practices could be losing business, as these large tech companies seem to spend a lot of money on advertising. I’m bombarded on social media by ads of these companies.

Clients are overcharged.

Personally, I see a bothersome story or post popup on the weekly basis in a therapist thread, posted by a mental health professional. The frequency is not a good sign.

We need to continue to expose large tech companies (not owned by mental health professionals) who are taking advantage of the mental health crisis here in America. As a mental health professional, I do my best to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the field, raise awareness on topics and issues, and be an advocate.

I understand that there might be good intentions behind these companies, but I can’t say that I really support them. I don’t see myself ever referring another person to use the services. Currently, I think that there are too many red flags and concerns to jump on board with supporting these companies.

Please, reconsider using and supporting certain mental health apps and tech companies. Instead, support a small, local private practice.

I feel like my thoughts are scattered, but my goal is to just get a few points out. Thank you for making it this far…

Two final thoughts

1. It’s terrible seeing celebrities supporting, promoting and helping to fund these companies. A good question to ask, is if the people who are promoting the services actually use them themselves?

Article about this:

YouTube Stars Are Being Accused of Profiting Off Fans’ Depression

2. Please share this information to continue to spread awareness.

Additional information:

How to find private practice mental health services

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