The National Alliance on Mental Illness that 21 percent of adults (52.9 million individuals) in the United States experienced mental illness in 2020. Despite this, only 46.2 percent of adults with mental illness received treatment. Enter Calmerry and other online therapy platforms.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with Alex Vitchenko, founder and CEO of Calmerry to get a better understanding of why he feels that the time is right for his company to make an impact.
Addressing Accessibility Issues
Like its competitors, one of the main goals of Calmerry is to address the accessibility issues that keep many individuals from seeking treatment for mental illness in the first place.
Research has consistently demonstrated that accessibility is a key problem preventing many Americans from seeking mental health care. One study by the National Council for Mental Wellbeing that 42 percent of Americans found high costs and poor insurance coverage to be major barriers keeping them from seeking care.
In fact, high costs for in-person therapy resulted in 25 percent reporting that they had to choose between their treatment or paying for necessities. An additional 46 percent reported having to drive over an hour to seek treatment.
“The entire goal of telehealth is to eliminate these barriers to access, no matter where someone lives,” Vitchenko says. “But even then, costs and availability of therapists can still be a challenge. Calmerry aims to reduce the barrier to entry with flexible subscription plans that cater to what each individual wants or can afford. The ability to choose between messaging only or messaging plus video plans helps ensure that online therapy can still fit into an individuals’ schedule and budget, even when insurance isn’t going to cover it.”
Calmerry’s online therapy plans start at $42 per week, much lower than typical rates for in-person therapy. Users can cancel anytime and receive a refund for the unused time remaining on their subscription, further reducing financial risk.
Personalized Therapy Plans
Even though Calmerry’s therapists may not be meeting with their patients in-person, this doesn’t seem to limit their ability to deliver personalized care. “It all starts with our matching system,” Vitchenko explains.
“We don’t leave therapist–matching up to an algorithm. Our team reviews users’ initial assessment responses and subscription plan, then matches them with the licensed therapist who will best fit their needs — often in less than an hour. Once the patient gets in contact with their therapist, they can work together to create a personalized plan that caters to their unique situation.”
In addition to therapist support, the Calmerry app also provides users with free mood tracking and journaling tools, , and access to webinars and other additional resources from mental health experts to help them improve their mental and emotional well-being.
“If your initial therapist match isn’t working out for you, you can switch for free,” Vitchenko adds. “The goal is for each patient to match to the licensed therapist who will be best suited to help them succeed.”
One common complaint of other online therapy platforms is inconsistency in therapist communications. While some therapists on these platforms respond quickly to their patients, others may take several days before they provide a response.
This was a major point of emphasis for the Calmerry team. “When someone reaches out to their therapist, it’s because they need help and support right then, in that moment,” Vitchenko says.
“While we can’t guarantee that a therapist’s schedule will let them provide an instant response, we’ve developed a system that ensures that therapists will always respond to their patients’ messages one to two times per business day. And, of course, they can schedule live video sessions as needed — even buying extras beyond what’s already included in their plan.”
This level of availability also comes into play with Calmerry’s client support staff, which is available 24/7. By ensuring that patients receive a timely response to their messages, Calmerry is able to deliver a higher standard of care with its asynchronous chat feature.
The availability of Calmerry’s therapists is a far cry from the patients often experience when trying to book an in-person mental health appointment. For individuals facing a mental health crisis, a timely, consistent response can make all the difference.
Hope for the Future
As Vitchenko explains, while further disrupting the mental health therapy space is important, what matters most to Calmerry and its licensed therapists is ensuring that individuals dealing with mental health issues get the help they need.
“Obviously, we’re seeking ways to differentiate ourselves from the market leaders in terms of quality, accessibility and so on. But at the end of the day, our goal is to ensure that the people who connect with our therapists get the resources they need to improve their well-being. Mental health challenges aren’t going to disappear from our society, but we can improve the way we address them. When everyone can get help tailored to their unique situation, we can mitigate mental illness’s effects and create meaningful change.”