There are numerous reasons to seek mental health help and support. Daily challenges, relationship or workplace issues, and significant life events can cause stress, loss, and burnout. At the same time, many are dealing with grief and trauma, managing addiction or diagnosed physical or mental health conditions while exploring and pursuing personal growth.
Reported psychological and emotional discomfort is prevalent. Around one in every five US adults (21%, 51.9 million people) is experiencing any mental illness, predominantly anxiety disorders and depression, with over one in every two experiencing comorbidities, especially on the mood disorder spectrum.
Due in part to the recent global pandemic, the number of individuals worldwide reporting anxiety and depression has increased. Anxiety disorders have grown by 25% to 374 million, with depressive symptoms rising by 28% to 246 million. In the US, the youth are most impacted (31%), as are the multiracial community (36%).
Thanks to increasing mental health awareness and education and expanding access to mental health services, many seek and receive the therapy they need. According to Forbes, the proportion of US adults receiving mental health treatment has increased (up from 19% in 2019 to 22% in 2021).
However, “therapy deserts” – regions without mental health support infrastructure – remain. Over two-thirds (65%) of rural areas have no access to psychiatric facilities, with depression rates up to 68% higher than those in urban areas. Beyond a distribution skew, there is a general shortage of mental health professionals, with recent statistics indicating only one provider available for every 350 individuals.
Moreover, while the stigma associated with mental health struggles and treatment is gradually declining, concerns remain. Many can’t access conventional in-room therapy due to being housebound, and many can’t afford the support they need. Indeed, over two-fifths (42%) report that they can’t afford treatment.
In response, to make much-needed therapy more accessible and affordable, numerous online mental health platforms offering eTherapy have been established, such as BetterHelp, Headspace, Online Therapy.com, Talkspace, Lyra, and more. However, what is a virtual therapy platform, who does it benefit, and how?
eTherapy is an electronic interaction conducted remotely via video, telephone, live chat, messaging, or texting. It embraces technology to make treatment and support available where facilities don’t exist, patients can’t leave their homes, prefer more anonymous communication, or have a limited budget. The approach allows synchronous (real-time) live sessions and asynchronous (delayed time) therapy.
- Videoconferencing: Live sessions are conducted “face-to-face” via video, allowing the therapist and patient to hear and see each other. This format is beneficial as the counselor can observe and monitor the patient appearance and mannerisms, contributing to therapeutic value.
- Phone calls: Traditional audio calls are an effective alternative to video, allowing patients a measure of anonymity if preferred. They are also more accessible for less tech-savvy individuals, such as elderly individuals or those who lack the required technology.
- Text-based: Therapy can also happen via digital communication methods, such as live chat, texting, messaging, or email. Text-based communication also accommodates asynchronous support, enabling patients to share and respond to requests at their own pace and at convenient times.
- Chat rooms and forums: Some platforms offer forums where individuals can connect with others experiencing similar symptoms and treatment and online group therapy sessions.
While eTherapy offers licensed psychological services, it isn’t psychotherapy and typically doesn’t include psychiatry (prescription of medicine). Online therapists, while qualified to do so, are precluded from diagnosing medical or mental disorders virtually. The format is also not recommended in all cases. For example, it is not ideal for mental health crises where medical intervention or hospitalization is warranted or to manage severe conditions such as bipolar or schizophrenia.
Simultaneously, eTherapy can address numerous mental health concerns. It’s also versatile and flexible, accommodating various individual situations and preferences, with some platforms providing basic yet adequate services free of charge. Americans find the concept appealing. According to the American Psychiatric Association, six in every ten adults would consider telehealth services for mental health care.
What Is an eTherapy Platform?
Digital eTherapy platforms and websites facilitate the centralized delivery of online mental health services by connecting individuals to a suitable licensed professional. Matching is optimized using a screening questionnaire, with therapy provided directly via digital communication tools and apps.
Virtual therapy platforms match clients with counselors based on therapeutic needs and goals, location, and schedule requirements. As the service is online, it is often automated, allowing users to book appointments, receive reminders, and manage therapy sessions in one place conveniently and easily. Additionally, platforms usually manage billing and payment processes securely and timeously.
Although eTherapy is conducted online, users can count on personal data protection and confidential communication thanks to advanced privacy and security software and compliance. Review their data security credentials when selecting your preferred platform to ensure peace of mind. Choosing a reputable and well-reviewed provider is also essential to guarantee ethical standards adherence and quality therapist credentials.
Reputable eTherapy Platforms 2024
Forbes editorial staff have compiled their list of the top ten eTherapy platforms in 2024. They based their ratings and selections on several criteria.
Their online therapy service recommendations include BetterHelp, Talkspace, Cerebral, LiveHealth Online, MDLive, Teledoc Health, Open Path, Doctor on Demand, Synergy eTherapy, and Amwell. Top employee assistance program (EAP) eTherapy providers, according to SelectSoftware Review, are Lyra Health, Modern Health, CoreHealth by Carebook, Spring Health, LifeWorks, Ulliance, Talkspace, Anthem, and Ginger.
However, how do general and workforce-focused eTherapy platforms compare? Let’s explore Lyra Health versus BetterHelp in detail to find out more.
Lyra vs. BetterHelp
Here, we compare two trusted platforms, making a top ten list of eTherapy providers. Lyra and BetterHelp offer flexible session options, fast sign-up, and well-vetted therapists. Each platform has pros and cons, more suitable for some than others.
More About BetterHelp
This eTherapy leader offers ongoing therapy sessions and a vast network of credentialed therapists. Their 30,000 counselors are quickly matched with users after completing a simple, easy-to-complete sign-up questionnaire. Their advanced algorithm allows BetterHelp to automatically align members with suitable therapists based on treatment needs, preferences, and location. Also, patients can request a rematch if the first isn’t ideal.
Conditions treated at BetterHelp are numerous. They include anxiety, addiction, anger issues, Career concerns, depression, eating disorders, family conflict, grief, intimacy issues, LGBTQ+, life changes and challenges, relationships, sleep disorders, stress, and trauma. Therapeutic modes include (but are not limited to):
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Client-centered therapy
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Emotionally focused therapy (EFT)
- Mindfulness therapy
- Motivational interviewing
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Solution-focused therapy
- Trauma-focused therapy
No direct teen therapy is available. In summary, BetterHelp’s pros and cons are as follows:
Degreed and experienced counselors
Therapist switching allowed
Flat monthly fees
Predictable weekly sessions
Membership can be canceled at any time
The therapist is available for messaging between sessions
|No psychiatric services or medication prescription
Insurance not accepted
Not subsidized as part of EAP
No diagnosis available
More About Lyra Health
Lyra is employer-sponsored, providing online mental health services and resources to businesses and corporations. Prestigious organizations, including Morgan Stanley, eBay, and Zoom, use the platform. It offers a hybrid of self-guided and classic therapy options. For example, the platform allows the integration of behavioral coaching with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Lyra also provides physical sessions with therapists.
Conditions and concerns addressed by Lyra include anxiety, adoption and foster care, depression, infertility, sex addiction, and stress. The platform offers individual, couple, teen, and child therapy. Therapeutic modalities include, among other things:
- Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
- Exposure and response prevention therapy (ERP)
- Internal family systems (IFS)
In addition, Lyra employs a coordinated care approach, able to provide therapy and diagnose and prescribe pharmaceuticals. Various specialists can facilitate support, including coaches, licensed professional counselors, nurse practitioners, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers.
In summary, Lyra Health’s pros and cons are as follows:
Psychiatric and prescription services
24/7 access to a care team
Therapeutic and self-help support
Only works with clinically validated, evidence-based approaches
There is no need for a referral
|Only accessible if the employer is enrolled
An allotted and finite number of subsidized sessions (usually 12 sessions)
Employer design plan constraints
So, how do Lyra and BetterHelp compare? Let’s evaluate the online therapy platforms side by side.
|4.5 to 4.8 out of 5
|4.8 out of 5
|Services on offer
|Individual, family, and child therapy; mental health coaching, care coordination; medication management
|Individual talk therapy; group webinars
|In-person, live video, and live messaging
|Live chat, video, and audio sessions
|$60-$90 per week, Four-week billing
|Free for EAP employer members
|Employer funded; Insurance may be accepted once employer reaches session cap
|PayPal or credit card
|Ability to choose a therapist
|Choose after an initial match
|Lead time to therapist matching
|Minutes after application submission
|Within 48 hours
|Duration and frequency of sessions
|Varies, but typically 12 thirty-minute sessions
|One 30 to 45-minute session per week
While Lyra can help you address complex situations via access to a coordinated team of providers, the number of paid sessions is limited, decreasing control over managing your needs. As a result, while excellent for both platforms, user reviews highlight a recurring concern around Lyra: support is limited to (typically) 12 sessions.
As such, Discussion Psychology has ranked BetterHelp above Lyra for user autonomy regarding the pace and duration of their mental health therapy. Additionally, BetterHelp’s extensive network of over 30,000 counselors almost guarantees the best fit with a therapist for optimal results.
eTherapy Platforms: Better Mental Health Wherever You Are
eTherapy platforms, also known as online therapy or teletherapy services, have gained popularity recently as a convenient and accessible way to provide mental health support. The approach allows a variety of modalities, including specialized services. Online mental health support, including subscription models and insurance acceptance, is cost-effective and affordable. In addition, virtual therapy offers privacy and reduces stigma, continuity, and consistency.
So, whether you opt for Lyra, BetterHelp, or another trusted eTherapy platform, you can count on speedy registration and authentic, professional, compassionate counseling. You can also rest assured that your communications are confidential and your sensitive data is secure.