BetterHelp 2024 Controversy & Allegations Explained

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Haesue Jo, Therapist from BetterHelp

The mental health service BetterHelp is facing intense controversy and allegations.

BetterHelp is an online mental health support platform that offers remote online counseling and therapy services. The site promises to match users with a therapist who "fits your objectives, preferences, and the type of issues you are dealing with."

Why Is BetterHelp Facing Controversy?

BetterHelp poster

According to an article from the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in March 2023, BetterHelp shared confidential information from an intake questionable to "major advertising platforms, including Facebook, Snapchat, Criteo, and Pinterest.”

A proposed settlement from the FTC included granting $7.8 million in partial refunds to BetterHelp customers for their "betrayal of trust."

This came despite promises from BetterHelp that information collected regarding their mental health and other private details would be “kept strictly private” and “never shared, sold, or disclosed to anyone.”

It added how BetterHelp used a "wide variety of tactics to share the health information of over 7 million consumers" with advertising platforms.

The service shared the email addresses of all current and former clients with Facebook in 2017 and disclosed the previous therapy of over 1.5 million users with the social media giant based on its intake questionnaire.

The FTC added that BetterHelp granted Snapchat the IP and email addresses of around 5.6 million former visitors to target them with ads.

Additionally, Newsweek reported on the negative experiences of several BetterHelp customers who had detailed their troubles on TikTok.

Tik Tok user @oh_thats_lauren has a video with 1.5 million views saying how her therapist was "10 minutes late to [their] 10-minute meeting:"

"I tried BetterHelp twice, I actually got a refund from them. My therapist was 10 minutes late to our 10-minute meeting, our first initial meeting."

She added that while discussing a "traumatic" story, the therapist opted to repeatedly market her book instead of focusing on the problem. Lauren also stated how a second therapist then missed two scheduled meetings only to apologize on the count that he was at his "other job."

Meanwhile, others told stories of comprised privacy, lack of professionalism from their therapists, and even confusion over various mental health conditions such as the difference between CPTSD and PTSD.

The app previously faced backlash for its paid collaborations with various YouTubers who shared their mental health struggles as part of their ads. The creators were paid as much as $200 per user to sign up using their unique links, leading to concern they were profiting off the struggles of others.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.