Israeli start-up Talkspace erected large transparent bubbles last week on New York’s Fifth Avenue to offer free online psychological treatment to pedestrians.
Passersby can enter a fake living room inside an inflated dome and chat online with a psychologist for free.
The project’s aim is to raise awareness of the availability of mental health services over the internet, according to organizers Eli Pe’er and Alon Zeipart.
“Many people find it easier to [seek treatment] anonymously on a touchscreen at home,” Pe’er said.
The bubbles convey the message that mental health is not something to be ashamed of and that patients should approach their treatment with full transparency, according to Pe’er.
Talking with a professional over the internet “is a great way to get help and to overcome [mental] difficulties,” he said.
Talkspace was founded by Tel Aviv duo Oren and Roni Frank — a married couple living in New York — following the suicide of a close friend who failed to seek treatment for depression. According to the founders, 60 percent of people dealing with a mental health problem do not seek treatment due to financial reasons or the difficulties associated with a face-to-face meeting with a psychologist.
In May, Talkspace raised $2.5 million in seed funding, according to The Wall Street Journal. The site doesn’t employ any licensed professionals, but serves as a platform to securely connect between therapists and patients online.
The English-speaking service is used across the United States, but includes clients from countries as diverse as Israel, Turkey, and Iran.