What Happened To Youper And Can AI Replace Therapy?

If you don’t have insurance there’s an alternative to therapy

Image by Tara Winstead from Pexels

This article is for two categories of people: those who can’t afford therapy, and those who aren’t comfortable with therapy and want an alternative.

If you can’t afford therapy you’re not alone. Therapy is covered by most health insurance providers (typically) but not everyone has health insurance.

And telehealth therapy or online therapy providers like Talkspace and BetterHelp seem to be different beasts all together. You’d have to check with your provider to see if they cover the cost.

In 2020, 91.4% of Americans had health insurance for at least part of the year. Meaning 8.6% or 28 million people did not. And while this statistic sounds relatively positive, if we lost 28 million people to mental health related issues it’d be cause for concern.

Besides, this census doesn’t account for the worldwide lack of access to mental health resources. Or, the reality that finding a good therapist can be hard. That truth is echoed in online forums of the already limited resources available.

Youper seemed like the perfect free alternative to therapy

Youper was co-founded in 2016 by psychiatrist Jose Hamilton.

It was an AI-based app that tracked your mood and aided the improvement of anxiety and depression through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques.

You’d chat with a bot and it’d suggest activities and exercises based on your mood and responses.

I used Youper (back in 2019) when I couldn’t afford therapy and loved it. I used it almost like a journal and it was so interactive.

It was free and if you check the reviews dating back to years ago so many users sang its praises.

Then it disappeared.

Youper is back but with a paywall

Youper is back, but is now subscription-based.

In the past you could monitor and track your mood and progress for free, now everything is behind a paywall. The great news is it has more features: like connecting you to actual therapists, soundscapes and meditation.

It’s like Calm and Talkspace bundled into one.

It’s a great resource but it’s not the resource it once was and leaves behind the demographic that wanted a different therapy solution.

Here’s the free alternative to Youper, BetterHelp and TalkSpace

Ads for BetterHelp and Talkspace (virtual online therapy spaces) bombarded the internet especially after 2020.

BetterHelp was founded in 2013, while Talkspace was created in 2012. And yes, they did fill the gap for accessibility in mental healthcare. However, they didn’t necessarily help with the affordability of it.

Enter stage left: Meomind

Meomind is free therapy. Here’s how it works.

Screenshot by author | Meomind’s home page

Memoind is an app with pre-recorded therapy sessions placed into categories. You get to listen in to therapist and client sessions. There are half an hour recordings per session and multiple sessions (usually 2) under each topic. Topics cover self-worth, anxiety, career, relationships, trauma and so much more.

It’s a new, free approach to therapy and it’s groundbreaking.

If Meomind incooperated the mood tracking and AI assisted CBT approaches that the earlier version of Youper had, it would be perfect.

But for now, it’s important for everyone who needs therapy to be able to access it in its various forms without cost being a barrier.

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