A New Way To Access Mental Healthcare

We found a platform that's here for you.

2020 has been a rough year all around and everybody has been struggling in their own way.

Our editors were looking for mental health care that takes the next step, and we found Talkspace: an online platform for 24/7 counseling and therapy.

While some people find therapy to be their solution, we noticed that others were looking for a little more help (and there's nothing wrong with that).

Talkspace Psychiatry lets users grow their personal mental health journey in a safe, comfortable way.

The key difference between therapy and psychiatry is that therapists focus on "talk therapy" while psychiatrists can prescribe medication to treat mental health conditions. Both are great resources and thankfully Talkspace provides both.

Talkspace has created the digital environment for you to receive expert medical care without leaving the comfort of your home. As an online platform, their professionals are not only licensed but also trained by Talkspace on how to communicate with patients in the digital landscape.

All of the sessions are live video and super convenient thanks to their app. It's easy to prioritize your mental health when you don't have to worry about rearranging your busy days to get to a doctor's office.

Sometimes the hardest step is getting out the door to see a prescriber but now you can do it right from your couch. We loved speaking with a Matching Agent, which relieved the stress of reading reviews and reaching out to a prescriber on our own. Being matched with a licensed psychiatric prescriber took so much weight off our shoulders.

After the initial call, your prescriber provides personalized treatment which varies and could include medication and follow-ups. However, if you don't click with your first match, Talkspace can easily connect you with a different prescriber without setting you back in your treatment.

Whenever we think of healthcare, cost is a major concern. Talkspace charges on a per session basis. The initial evaluation is $199 and follow-ups are $125 which is significantly cheaper than a typical in-person appointment. They currently only accept Premera and Cigna insurance (Optum will also be accepted by November) but those with other benefits can submit claims and receive 50-90% of the cost of Talkspace back.

Talkspace is now more than just a space to talk; Talkspace Psychiatry is here to help those that want to move forward with their mental health, but on a different path. There's no one way to take care of yourself and Talkspace recognizes that, so you're not alone.

We love Talkspace Psychiatry for creating a judgment-free zone where we can get the help we need and still feel in control.


Friendship in the Time of Instagram: The Caroline Calloway Delusion

Caroline Calloway's ghostwriter just came clean about their fraught relationship. Their story tells us a lot about the world we live in, and most of it's not pretty.

Image via The Cut

Caroline Calloway has had a difficult week.

Over the past six days, Calloway has taken to Instagram 17 separate times to lament the fact that her ex-best friend and self-proclaimed ghostwriter, Natalie Beach, just published a personal essay on The Cut. Written seven years after the events it describes, it's essentially the story of how Calloway exploited and hurt Beach during the years they were close.

Though it's ostensibly about Calloway, Beach's piece is really about herself. It's about moving into the cheapest apartment you can find deep in Brooklyn and learning to navigate the labyrinth of adulthood without a cushion of familial wealth. It's about the shadowy sides of womanhood: the bad sex and assault, the not feeling beautiful or worthy of love.

In this, Beach provides a mirror in which many will see themselves reflected. Behind every Caroline Calloway, Emily Ratajkowski, and CGI instagram influencer, there's been a Natalie Beach, working in the shadows to maintain the artifice of their friend's public image, and picking up the pieces when disaster strikes.

If you're wondering why the name Caroline Calloway sounds familiar, you may have heard it when she rose to public-enemy prominence after hosting a series of "creativity workshops" that cost upwards of $165. Calloway promised orchid crowns and multiple events in different locations—but ultimately offered little besides mason jars, poorly made salads, and a single Brooklyn loft. The story of her failed workshops (and her background in false promises) quickly became a symbol for the hollowness and false promises of the Instagram influencer age. Labeled the "Fyre Festival" of Instagram popups, Calloway's workshops and her life's work (slash personal brand) were written off as the most delusional of scams: the inevitable fallout from the Internet's incompatibility with the physical world.

Before her fall from the Internet's good graces, Calloway appeared to possess an exquisitely Instagrammable life. She had hundreds of thousands of followers, and her account mostly consisted of travel stories and real-time tales of a Cambridge-based love affair with a boy named Oscar, told through captions and snapshots. Her work even earned her a book deal, reportedly worth $375,000.

Those were Calloway's glory days, at least externally. She gallivanted through Sicily and fell in love with charming English boys. She was obsessed with self-documentation and curation; she was good at seeming relatable and embodying #goals at the same time. Her lifestyle and personality were, in short, perfect for the digital age.

Except, inevitably, it was a sham.

"Caroline had always been obsessive and confident, but Instagram focused those qualities like sunlight through a magnifying glass," writes Beach. Her essay paints a very different, and much darker, picture of Calloway's past, a picture that reflects a great deal of what constitutes "friendship" in the modern, capital-driven era.

A writer who now lives in Los Angeles, Natalie Beach is just as good at crafting a sympathetic narrative as her more Instagram-famous counterpart. Tellingly, her essay begins by describing the creative nonfiction workshop she took in college, which is when she edited Calloway's writing for the first time. She quickly became enchanted by Calloway, who appeared to offer everything she lacked: love, adventure, confidence, wealth.

The two became friends. Soon enough, Beach began writing Calloway's Instagram captions, crafting tales of Calloway's adventures in Europe from Beach's Sunset Park railroad apartment.

There were always cracks and tensions, though. According to Beach, Calloway's externally perfect life was lined with rot that took the form of scattered Adderall pills, an inability to focus on school, and an elitist pretension that stemmed from lifelong privilege. Still, the two worked obsessively on telling Calloway's story. "I believed Caroline and I were busting open the form of nonfiction," Beach wrote. "Instagram is memoir in real time. It's memoir without the act of remembering. It's collapsing the distance between writer and reader and critic, which is why it's true feminist storytelling, I'd argue to Caroline, trying to convince her that a white girl learning to believe in herself could be the height of radicalism (convenient, as I too was a white girl learning to believe in herself)." Though clearly far more self-aware and socially attuned than Calloway, during their friendship, Beach remained under Calloway's spell of shallow white feminist delusions of empowerment and faux worldliness, the kind that's glorified by late capitalism and rabidly consumed by the Internet's masses.

They pieced together a book proposal and were eventually given an advance. Calloway returned to Cambridge, but when she began saying she couldn't finish the book, Beach flew to meet her—and discovered that Calloway had been living in relative squalor, spending thousands of dollars on Ebay from the darkness of her cockroach-infested dorm room. Struggling under the weight of the artifice she'd created, Calloway eventually confessed that she had bought many of her Instagram followers and took out ads to gain her following.

Still, Beach refused to abandon her friend, who seemed to have the kind of hold on her that belies codependency. "Caroline's problems weren't just my problems; they were my whole world, and so while I was a supporting character in the book, I cast myself as the hero in her life," she writes. The two went to Amsterdam, but the trip was disastrous and pushed their friendship to the breaking point. Calloway continued to spiral, and Beach finally cut ties.

Eventually, Beach left New York, and Calloway hosted her failed events and never stopped documenting. As the facade of her perfect life crumbled, Calloway resorted to vulnerability and confession, painting her life as a beautiful, arty mess and recalibrating her brand to align with the person she seemed to want to be. Still, it seemed like she was poised to fade into relative obscurity outside of her online fans and scam junkies.

Until now. Beach's essay has effectively gone viral, sparking a flurry of memes and Tweets. And for good reason: Beach's writing is excellent, pristine, and clear, and one of the most incisive portraits of Instagram's side effects to date.

The tropes came ready-made. Calloway was the needy, famous, beloved, egoistic and ever-self-immolating mess, while Beach was her quiet handmaiden, picking up the fragments and piecing them into a palatable and sympathetic narrative. This binary—between sun and shadow, gilded girl and her quiet reflection—is an all too common trope in fiction and online.

In her essay "Always Be Optimizing," Jia Tolentino examines why this binary has become such a popular plot device in the modern age. "To look any particular way and to actually be that way are two separate concepts, and striving to look carefree and happy can interfere with your ability to feel so," she writes. "The Internet codifies this problem, makes it inescapable; in recent years, pop culture has started to reflect the fractures in selfhood that social media creates. Not coincidentally, these stories usually center on women, and usually involve a protagonist driven to insanity by the digital avatar of an ideal peer."

She goes on to describe Alice, a character in the novel Sympathy by Olivia Sudjic. Alice "becomes obsessed with a writer named Mizuko, whose life compels Alice to such a degree that she starts to believe that she is actually, in some way, Mizuko—a double of her, a shadow, an echo," she writes. This could be describing the plot of the Calloway/Beach saga, verbatim. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Calloway is not a fan of Tolentino).And yet the binary can't hold up, at least not outside of fiction and the Internet (which are perhaps not as different as we think). Inevitably, it fractures; at some point, the narrative switches, revealing its insubstantiality. This is inevitable, as none of us fit into grid-shaped frames. None of us can be who capitalism asks us to be, especially not women requested to comply with Instagram's simultaneously effortless, mindful, and liberated brand of ideal womanhood, an ideal that has always required extensive funding and a certain amount of automaton-like compliance.

Of course, Calloway couldn't keep up; her life was never the romance novel she pretended to be, just like Beach was not the shadow she thought she was. None of us are exactly who we think we are, but the Internet reflects and magnifies our delusions and our idealized versions of ourselves, and that is part of its artifice and its allure. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Calloway is not a fan of Tolentino).

Today, Calloway remains loyal to her platform, bound to Instagram like it seems Beach was once bound to her. Since finding out that Beach's essay was going to be published, she has meticulously documented her thoughts and reactions. Her posts from this week add up to nearly 5,000 words, and they detail the minutiae of her feelings, her therapy sessions, her regrets about her friendship with Beach, and her enduring love for the girl she met in that writing class so long ago.

"SHE IS THE BEST WRITER I KNOW and I want her to make beautiful art out of all the mosaic pieces of her pain," Calloway writes in one. She advocates for her friend; she's mad but understanding, and she acknowledges her mistakes. "I hope I can support Natalie now in ways I never did during my addiction," she confesses in another post. A grab for sympathy or a victim card, perhaps, and yet a moving admission all the same.

The posts are oddly absorbing, maybe some of her best writing yet. It's somewhat hard to truly dislike Calloway and Beach—they're both so willing to spill their guts out and so excellent at curating the ensuing wreckage—and all this makes it easier to understand how they nabbed a book deal together. For better or for worse, they are each other's partners in storytelling, perfect foils and muses, cartographers of meaning in a world and an online sphere that seems more and more meaningless.

Though they never did write that book together, in a way, they did write their story—across years and mediums, in real time. And by reading and retelling their stories, we're playing our own roles in their ongoing narrative. This is, in essence, interactive VR storytelling.

But what's different about this story is that it's so firmly interwoven with social media, stitched together with the glue of real-time posts, massive amounts of capital, and the kind of public following usually reserved for celebrities. In the world of monetized social media, one's digital story can become more profitable (and real) than one's actual life.

Capital has always been a corrupt force, providing some with easy advantages while others work overtime, to say the absolute least. Yet never have its ravages been more visible than when they are documented in real-time via grid and 24-hour snapshot, and when they get tangled with emotions and self-image. As Tolentino implies, never has capital been more powerful than in a world where one's self is the final product. The self is the end goal of late-stage capitalism, the next phase of evolution, the final, ultimate commodity. If we can sell ourselves, then capitalism has us, body, mind, and soul.

This story is far from over. Calloway is currently posting screenshots of her old Instagram feed and labeling them "By Caroline Calloway and Natalie Beach," as if that will make up for nearly a decade of failing to credit Beach for her work. She has also written a response essay to Beach's piece (though technically her entire Instagram is essentially a response essay to Beach). Ultimately, all this is could be read simply as great publicity for her, as well as much-needed distraction for us.

Storytelling's not dead, everyone. If anything, it's more alive than ever, as we slowly become the stories we tell about ourselves online, or sacrifice ourselves to the algorithm while trying.


The Toxic Effects of Social Media on Young Celebrities

In recent interviews, Selena Gomez and Game of Thrones' Maisie Williams have both opened up about their struggles with mental illness.

On Wednesday, at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival for The Dead Don't Die, Selena Gomez got candid about the side effects of social media.

"For my generation specifically, social media has been terrible," Gomez said. "I understand that it's amazing to use as a platform, but it does scare me when you see how exposed these young girls and boys are. I think it's dangerous for sure."

She added, "It's impossible to make [social media] safe at this point… I see these young girls, I'll meet them at meet-and-greets, and they're just devastated by bullying and not having a voice. I would be careful and allow yourself some time limits of when you should use it."

Gomez has long been open about her struggles with mental health. In October 2018, she was hospitalized and entered a treatment facility for anxiety and depression. This past April, she told Coach's Dream It Real podcast about her time in treatment and in therapy, and also mentioned social media and its detrimental consequences.

‎Dream It Real: Selena Gomez on Authenticity on Apple Podcasts podcasts.apple.com

"It is not that healthy to be on [social media] all the time because I noticed with me, I got kind of depressed looking at these people who look beautiful and amazing, and it would just get me down a lot, so I just think taking breaks is really important. But just know that most of it isn't real," she said. "I don't mean to be rude, but it's very unrealistic in a lot of ways, and I think that for me, I want to protect the youngest generation because they are exposed to so much information, and I feel like that causes a lot of anxiety at the youngest age."

The day after Gomez spoke at Cannes, her thoughts were echoed by Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, who told the podcast Happy Place that fame has been detrimental to her mental health—and the Internet's willingness to corroborate her insecurity with cruel comments only made things worse. "Honestly, I want a normal life....I don't want any of this crazy, crazy world because it's not worth it," she began, adding that used to seek out negative online criticism so she could "sit in a hole of sadness."

‎Happy Place on Apple Podcasts podcasts.apple.com

"I still lie in bed at, like, 11 o'clock at night telling myself all the things I hate about myself," she said. "I think there was a period of time where I was very sad, and then I came out of that, and now it's just really terrifying that you're ever going to slip back into it. That's still something that I'm really working on, because I think that's really hard. It's really hard to feel sad and not feel completely defeated by it."

However, Williams followed these admissions with some hopeful sentiments. "As soon as you start digging, you start asking yourself bigger questions than "Why do I hate myself?" It's more like, "Why do you make yourself feel this way?" The answers to all of these questions really are within you. It sounds really hippie-dippy and like 'look within you to find peace,' but it is true and at the end of the day you're making yourself feel this way for a reason."

Finally, she said that though she still struggles, the best cure has been self-acceptance. She's learned to understand that "everyone is a little bit sad," she said, adding that "at least dropping the act and just being who you truly are, I think that's definitely a first step."

It's currently Mental Health Month, so Gomez's and Williams's comments come at an appropriate time. Though their stories are different, they both contain common threads: fame is not a cure-all, and social media and the Internet can be extremely detrimental to anyone's health, no matter how successful (or kind, or talented, or loved) one actually is.

They're far from being the only stars who have been open about mental health struggles. Williams' Game of Thrones co-star Sophie Turner has also come clean about her experiences with depression and body image. "I have experienced mental illness firsthand and I've seen what it can do to the people around [the sufferers] as well," she told Marie Claire Australia.

She echoed Williams' sentiments about the struggles of growing up on the set of Game of Thrones. "Maisie and I used to do it [stay inside] together. I think being friends with each other was quite destructive because we were going through the same thing," she said on Dr. Phil's Phil in the Blanks podcast. Her comments make an important point: while honesty and openness about mental illness is important, lamenting and practicing destructive behaviors with other mentally ill people is usually unhelpful.

Instead, Williams implied, a support system should include a wide variety of people—including a therapist. "Everyone needs a therapist, especially when people are constantly telling you you're not good enough and you don't look good enough," she said. "I think it's necessary to have someone to talk to, and to help you through that."

Selena Gomez has expressed similar feelings about therapy. She's praised DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), a practice originally created for people with bipolar disorder that has been effective in treating depression, anxiety and more. According to a Vogue profile, Gomez is a "profound" believer in DBT, and said that it "has completely changed [her] life."

It's not only the super-famous who struggle with mental illness. Many studies have shown that social media and the Internet are having widespread effects on mental health across the board, with Facebook as the worst culprit and Instagram not far behind. In general, approximately 1 in 5 adults suffer from a mental illness.

So what can we do about this? There's focusing on gratitude, accepting emotions as they are, and developing a healthy support system, to name a few. Also, limiting social media can help. "Perhaps you set a limit on your screen time each day or turn off your devices at a certain time every night. Whatever you do, carve in plenty of time for "real life," writes Dr. Saju Mathew, M.D. "You'll be happier and healthier for it." Of course, nothing can replace good old-fashioned therapy.

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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Marshmallow attack: Hate crime or effective therapy technique?

Sock Monkee, our resident new-age therapist, uses a surprising tactic to get to the heart of a distraught new patient's problem

After a mysterious "accident," Maria is now confined to a wheelchair.

But there's no pity party with this monkee. Needless to say, this episode of Sock Monkee Therapy redefines "tough love." Pelting his new unsuspecting patient with a marshmallow barrage, "This is a hate crime," Maria cries out, holding a Jet-Puffed marshmallow to her face. But there's a definite method to this monkee's madness.

Watch below:

Sock Monkee Therapy

See, Maria's problem isn't her fear of the dark, it's something that runs much deeper that's contributing to her anger, bitter attitude, and a lot of yelling.

Monkee, who claims to have received a Ph. D. in Psychology from Harvard no less, challenges Maria's misdirected aggression with volley after volley of marshmallow attacks that would make a Boy Scout Troop a butt ton of s'mores. What is it about this cruelty that could turn her self-pity into self-empowerment? As the marshmallows keep coming, Maria's walls come a tumbling down, revealing what's really not working for her -- and it's not just her legs.

Sock Monkee Therapy

It's that she hasn't accepted her new physical challenges. Seems this monkee has a heart after all, helping transform Maria and making her realize nothing is out of her grasp, except the fruit roll-ups on the top shelf of a 7-11. After all, she may not be able to walk. But that doesn't mean she's not willing to try.

We give this Sock Monkee Therapy a serious 5 bananas out of 5 rating for getting to the heart of the matter! Ripe, yet firm advice!

Please check back for more reviews of these sessions, as the savant's amazing analysis unfolds, giving us a glimpse into our own shortcomings. With a little humor, anything is possible.

Perhaps you too will seek a simian solution.