Skip to Main Content

Late last year, Reno, Nev., Mayor Hillary Schieve proposed a novel idea to try to meet the mental health needs of her community: The city would spend $1.3 million of expiring coronavirus relief funding on virtual therapy through the app Talkspace.

With the exception of young children, every resident would have free access.


Nothing of the kind had been tried before. Reno doesn’t usually tackle mental health issues — it doesn’t have a behavioral health department — and Talkspace had never offered its service to an entire city. “It was extremely risky, and politicians hate to be the first one to go out there,” Schieve told STAT. “But I’m not afraid.”

Unlock this article by subscribing to STAT+ and enjoy your first 30 days free!

  • When I hear “licensed” therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists protect things such as TalkSpace my head just about explodes.

    Having personal knowledge of some of these “experts” with PhDs, Masters etc I can tell you one is a flat out quack, one a narcissistic con man preacher-lite and another is a major tax evader. There are good ones out there, don’t get me wrong. But am not interested in hearing about how great “real” therapists are in general.

  • I think that platforms like TalkSpace are critical to support the impending healthcare crisis. Inevitably the platform will need to find a way to adapt and adopt a solution to support local therapists.

  • “We would never leave people hanging,” said Hirschhorn. “We would never cut off therapy to those that are currently receiving therapy without giving them a number of options.”

    Meaning, they’re welcome to pay for it themselves! Reno just spent $1.3 million on a trial program for the Talkspace New Business department.

  • “need that has been unmet in the marketplace” —- “the marketplace’ — well, that says it all, doesn’t it, in the capitalist, commercial, market economy and political space. That shows where the priorities are.

  • I tried a rival of Talkspace when I was in an anxiety crisis. I won’t be using it again. Having been in traditional therapy throughout the years, this felt like talking to a not too bright friend I was amazed at her bringing her own anecdotes into it, ones I considered off the wall. She was in FL me in CA so there may have been regional misunderstandings. What a waste + not cheap. In my case not worth it.

  • I am so surprised that any city leader would seek advice about providing mental health services from a friend and other city leaders rather than mental health professionals in their own city. I am also very surprised that the county provides no mental health services. This sounds like a TV show inn the 40s or 50s where no one mentions depression. I wonder why after the death of her friends, the mayor did not seek services of the most obvious agency…hospice and palliative care who provide grief counseling. There has been a history of immense need for mental health awareness,access to treatment in this country forever but the pandemic has pushed disparities to the forefront. In the end I suppose this may be a bittersweet event hopefully leading to comprehensive mental health programs all over the state. It will be a long journey but it sounds to me as if there are many committed mental health professionals to see it through as well as the mayor in Reno.

Comments are closed.