Teenspace: Free Therapy for NYC Teens 

As America faces a mental health crisis, it is crucial for New York City to look out for the mental well-being of the youth. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst to the crisis, increasing the feelings of depression and anxiety for those who grew up during these years. As a response, New York City invested $26 million into a contract with Talkspace to create Teenspace, which is a program offering free therapy to adolescents aged 13-17.

“I know a couple people who used Talkspace actually, and I heard it’s really helpful. But, I also heard that kids- for Teenspace- are entitled to one 30-minute live meeting per month. So like, it’s kind of helpless for people who really really need it. I think you have to message your therapist, which can be helpful for some teenagers but other people prefer talking more. I guess it depends on who you are,” Preston Sookdeo, junior, said. 

Teenspace allows teens to message their therapist five days a week and one video or audio session per month. This platform offers a diverse set of licensed therapists who are experienced with teenagers. Many of which are BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) or part of the LGBTQIA+. Having a diverse set of therapists gives the skill of understanding, especially for teens who struggle with identity. However, there are tight restrictions to how often you can contact your therapist, limiting users to a fluid and flexible relationship. 

“Living through the pandemic made it really hard to have a real childhood, especially for our generation. I feel like, like it made a really big change for us. Kids and families are still hurting from all the lost lives, you know? Teenagers these days aren’t given the right resources for our mental health battles from COVID,” Kenneth Hafford, senior, said.

COVID-19 is a definite factor in America’s current mental health crisis when considering the isolation, rapid change, and deaths of many. As Kenneth stated, this generation of adolescents grew up in a dark period. Not only did it affect our personal lives, but our education and social lives also plummeted. Although the pandemic’s peak was years ago, the grief experienced is still a fresh wound. Resources like Teenspace are necessary for our generation. 

“We don’t get therapy easily. It’s really expensive, living in New York City is already expensive, so how can kids get therapy? You have to pay by the hour and it’s hard for us. Parents don’t allow it because, like, they can’t afford it. It’s barely accessible for people who are middle and lower class… It was probably the hardest for us too,” Lohori Roy, junior, said. 

The mental health crisis is on the rise, and pricing is a large factor. As therapy prices increase, many students resort to a school counselor or a guardian for help. Teenspace is a free program, which allows teenagers to experience therapy more intimate than other alternatives. It removes the worry of expenses for many parents, while still being able to maintain healthy mental hygiene. Through a lack of user cost, it grants accessibility and affordability. 

“At the same time, I feel like a lot of people don’t really know about Teenspace. I think it needs to be advertised and shown off more for people to actually know about it and use it. But also, it feels kind of like a band-aid for the mental health crisis. Like, it doesn’t really get to the root of our depression and stuff like that,” Lohori Roy said. 

The full potential of Teenspace is hindered by the lack of exposure to its target audience. Small amounts of advertising defeats the purpose of its accessibility, preventing the program from getting potential users’ attention. Despite the program’s good intentions, there is a lack of attention on the actual mental health crisis. As Lohori states, Teenspace can be viewed as a “band-aid” that doesn’t effectively tackle the root of the crisis such as the economy or corrupt systems. 

New York City’s decision to invest in Teenspace can be considered a step to the end of America’s mental health crisis or a “band-aid” to the root of the problem. However, it is clear that the program will have a positive impact on teenage mental health hygiene. Through the diverse selection of experienced psychologists, teenagers are given a safe space to express themselves for no cost. NYC is on the way to a healthier, happier future. 

Mayor Adams at the launch of NYC Teenspace photographed by the Mayoral Photography Office

Fae Baguyo

Howdy! My name is Fae Baguyo and I write pieces for the food section of The Edison Light. I am a real foodie and you can catch me in the trendiest restaurants. I love trying new things and experimenting with unique trends, especially the weird ones. I hope to bring you enjoyable news in the future!