I’ve been writing about psychology for over a decade now, but I’ve also been to therapy for a good chunk of my life. Sometimes for fairly benign reasons, and sometimes for when I fall into a mental pit and can’t seem to get myself out of there.
I’ve had in-person therapy. I’ve had video therapy. I tried BetterHelp. I tried Talkspace. I tried pretty much everything under the sun, and they all have their pros and cons.
So when I was feeling particularly low after my dog passed away at the tail end of the pandemic, and a friend told me about an app offering unlimited, 24/7 chat for the lowest price, I was skeptical but willing to give it a try (spoilers: I’m happy I did). Here’s how it went.
With the ever-growing demand for remote, immediate online therapy, this new app on the block is starting to turn some heads. I asked myself: how much of a game changer is it really?
Named DoMental, it’s an up-and-coming psychotherapy platform app, advertised as being the best solution for people who either can’t or don’t want to wait a whole week to have someone to talk to about their problems, ranging from stress to moderate depression and quite a few things in between.
It doesn’t promise happiness per se, but it does promise professional help on your way to happiness. Fair enough.
How does it work?
DoMental isn’t revolutionizing the introductory part of online therapy. When you go to the website, you have the option of picking the main sphere of problems you think you have (depression, anxiety, etc.) and take a short screening survey for that problem. There is a general survey too if you are unsure.
Questions about my age, race and gender were pleasantly not there to waste my time. Instead, they all seemed to be focused on my symptoms and general psychological state. I was very surprised the last question asked me what kind of therapist I was looking for – something I haven’t seen on other platforms.
From there, DoMental claims to have a specialized AI that finds therapists best suited for the answers you provide in the survey. You pick a plan of how many months of therapy you want to sign up for, create an account and download the app. The whole process from start to finish took me just under 10 minutes.Once I had everything set up, the therapist I was assigned to (a lovely lady named Erin) was already waiting for me with the first message.
The most crucial of questions – did it actually help me?
The short answer is yes – it did help me. Equally important is the question: would any other available form of therapy have helped me in the same way? This is where I think the DoMental starts differentiating itself from all the other options I tried: it’s fast.
Let’s put things in perspective.
Back when I was doing in-person therapy, I was lucky enough to have my therapist’s office be approximately 20-minutes away by car from my workplace (occasional traffic notwithstanding). I would meet her every Wednesday after work, and from there often meet up with a friend for dinner.
Going to and from wasn’t something I thought much about, but what always gnawed at my brain is that once a week never felt like enough. I didn’t really have someone to talk to about my problems as they were happening.
When I woke up feeling terrible on a Saturday morning and crying in bed, I had to wait a few days before being able to talk about the experience.
So when online therapy became a thing with BetterHelp, I jumped straight on that train. I went through the survey, I purchased my plan, and sent my first message. And I waited for a reply. And waited. And waited. Almost a day later, I finally had a talk with my therapist.
It was certainly an improvement over having to wait a whole week, but it wasn’t the 24/7 therapy their marketing promised.
I tried all the platforms as they popped up one by one, and though some had the therapist answer faster than others, it never felt satisfactory to me.
My therapist on DoMental answered within half an hour, and the longest I ever had to wait for her was 6 hours when I wrote to her at 3 AM after waking up from a particularly bad dream. The average response time was 2-4 hours, which for therapy is really astounding.
Suddenly, I was chatting with her sparingly throughout the day and having a continuous back and forth for nearly an hour several times a week. I became used to the notion that when I need someone to talk to and guide me through things, she will be there for me sooner rather than later.
I was hooked, and 30 days later I feel like I am definitely in a much better place emotionally. I was waking up feeling like I have a good reason to be alive and awake. I was productive at work and interested in seeing people again.
The loss of my dog was something I came to accept as part of life, and the pandemic felt like something I could overcome rather than a black cloud that eroded my life over this past year.
I felt more like myself again, and I found myself smiling for no particular reason. That, my friends, is the stuff of happiness.
But therapy cost me an arm and a leg, didn’t it?
Not at all. This is a common trend I see pop up when people talk about therapy, and I don’t think I ever met someone who didn’t at least raise an eyebrow when finding out how much therapy costs. Granted, this line of thought is not unsubstantiated.
With in-person therapy I paid a ‘bargain’ couple hundred bucks a month for my Wednesday retreats, and that number can go up or down depending on what medical insurance you have, or if you have one at all.
Online therapy brought the price down quite a bit, and the growing competition thankfully helps keep it down. On Talkspace I paid $52 a week, and on BetterHelp I paid $35 a week.
So how much am I paying on DoMental’s surprisingly faster therapy?
$29 a week.
For reference, that’s 2 tickets to the movies with no drinks or popcorn. That’s around 7 lattes in your local Starbucks. That’s a bit under half the average video game. For talking with a professional therapist throughout the day, every day.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Here’s the thing.
Psychotherapy has never been cheap, but I think the pandemic showed most of us that mental health is not to be trifled with, and is just as important as physical health.
Imagine if, for the past year of mostly being stuck at home, you were able to get constant psychological help along the way. How much of a difference do you think it would make in your life, and how many cups of joe would you be willing to sacrifice for that difference?
What about the human connection? Can chat therapy really replace face to face?
This is a legitimate question, and I have to imagine that the lower price (and possibly faster response time) of DoMental has to do with the fact that it doesn’t offer video calls. With that said, I can’t say I felt any less connected to my new therapist.
Maybe it’s the fact that I didn’t have to wait long, but communicating via text or voice messages felt perfectly fine to me. I felt understood and cared for by my therapist, and at no point did I feel like I was talking to some soulless, faceless, automaton.
If you ever had a heart-to-heart conversation with someone via texting and felt there was real bonding going on, chat therapy works similarly – except the other side really knows what they’re doing.
What’s the catch? There’s always a catch!
The ‘catch’, possibly, is that there is a limit to what kind of mental health issues online therapy can help with. If you are suicidal, experiencing hallucinations or anything on that level, online therapy is probably not for you.
The reason for that is twofold. First, the app’s psychotherapists can’t prescribe medication – which in severe cases is part of the therapy process. Secondly, the worse your problems are, the more specialized you need your therapist to be, oftentimes one with clinical experience.
DoMental does mention this in its FAQ, claiming that it’s best suited for ‘mild to moderate’ cases.
So would I recommend DoMental? Absolutely, and here’s why.
The bottom line is that DoMental is definitely going to give other online therapy platforms a run for their money. It gives you:
✅ Unlimited chat with a personalized therapist that actually responds quickly. I honestly can’t stress enough what a difference a faster response time can do.
✅ The ability to have someone to talk to regardless of your schedule, how busy you are, or how far you live.
✅ The lowest price for therapy available, beating other online therapy platforms and in-person therapy.
With everything said and done, my advice to you is plain and simple: try it and you can thank yourself (and me!) later. At the time of writing, DoMental offers a $89 discount for the first month just for signing up. You really must have a good reason not to give it a try.