Littleton, Colorado-based employee assistance program (EAP) company MINES & Associates is partnering with telebehavioral health company Talkspace to offer counseling to employees via messaging.
Launched in July, MINES will be one of the first EAP providers to use messaging to address stress, anxiety, substance abuse, work/life balance, grief, relationship problems, wellness and other behavioral health topics, officials there said. This new model is aimed at increasing convenience for employees while accommodating those who are reluctant to pursue face-to-face counseling.
The service runs on what is called an “asynchronous” messaging platform, said MINES spokesman Nic McKane in an email response to questions.
Basically, this means the messages the patient sends and the replies they receive from their therapist are not live and happening at the same time. However, the patient is able to send any number of text messages, audio clips or video messages through the platform at any time and receive daily replies from their therapist five days a week. The therapist on the other end is always a state-licensed clinical therapist.
"We are very excited to partner with Talkspace to provide online therapy for clients. Talkspace has an impressive program and network of providers, and our clients will benefit from an access, expertise, and multi-modality point of view," said Dani Kimlinger, CEO of MINES, in a statement.
According to data from Talkspace, messaging-based services increase employee productivity by up to 36% and decrease absenteeism by as much as 50%.
MINES already offers video and telephonic counseling options for employees, so an online messaging platform was the natural next step. “We still offer all of the different modalities to our clients, but now they have this additional messaging option available,” McKane said. “We felt this was a good step in forward to help address stigma, access issues and any other reason a person may not want to engage in counseling through traditional face-to-face or telephonic counseling.”
According to data from MINES, messaging-based counseling is especially popular among young adults and teens that may not want to or not be able to access services through traditional means.
MINES expects this additional modality to increase utilization so that it may have more users at any given time then before.
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Officials said integration of the Talkspace technology was seamless. The challenge was making sure the platform itself and all the surrounding tracking and reporting systems were aligned so the appropriate data were collected and service remained solid.
MINES accomplished this by meeting consumers where they are—their computers and mobile phones. "We wanted to make sure they could access counseling through those devices as well,” McKane said.