On Monday, Nov. 8, as the total mortality for the Astroworld Concert rose to 10 people, Travis Scott announced a partnership with BetterHelp for those who have been affected by the concert’s events.
This partnership would allow for attendees to receive one month free of one-on-one virtual therapy sessions with the company. Marketed by the company’s website as “therapy from your couch,” BetterHelp therapy services can cost $260 to $360 a month for an individual to be linked with a licensed therapist who they can chat with over text, phone or video call.
According to a study conducted by Molly Osberg and Dhruv Mehrotra for Jezebel, BetterHelp alerts third parties, such as Facebook, each time patrons of the site go into a “session” and when they book their appointments. Facebook also receives metadata regarding an individual’s sessions with their therapist. Although not the exact transcript of the session, Facebook still receives information such as a user’s approximate location and how long the session runs.
BetterHelp isn’t the only party under fire for this agreement. Travis Scott is also facing a high level of criticism regarding the possible financial gain he could be experiencing from this sponsorship.
A partnership with a company typically entails payment to the celebrity in the partnership. For BetterHelp, this process has extended to Ariana Grande, Venus Williams and several other YouTubers and celebrity figures. In the case of Jeff Guenther, an Oregon-based therapist who founded the online therapist directory TherapyDen.com, the number $80,000 a month in referral fees was waived in front of him when BetterHelp asked for a partnership between the companies that would direct people to BetterHelp therapists from the Therapy Den directory. Although Guenther ultimately refused the offer, the $80,000 figure came from a similar partnership between BetterHelp and OpenCounciling.com.
According to the BetterHelp statement “Support in the Wake of Astroworld,” published on Nov. 11, it was Scott’s team that reached out to BetterHelp with the idea to cover the cost of therapy for those affected by the Astroworld tragedy. This statement concludes that their partnership with Scott is not a “sponsorship or paid endorsement of any kind.”
BetterHelp has also neglected to mention that it does not provide treatment to minors, an important fact considering that the youngest of the Astroworld victims were ages 10, 14 and 16. Instead, BetterHelp will direct minors to their teen therapy site, teencounciling.com, which will make them ineligible for the free therapy BetterHelp is offering.
Travis Scott not being paid for this promotion did a lot to ease the concerns of fans, but he is still under criticism for perceived opportunism and the fact that many believe one month of free therapy, one session a week that is 30 minutes long, is simply insufficient for people who survived what local law enforcement describes as a “mass casualty event.”
“Even with video sessions, a month is typically not enough time to complete the process,” Carolyn Michaels, a pre-licensed therapist who has been a counselor since 2015, said in a discussion with INPUT Magazine. “So offering a month of free therapy isn’t offering trauma treatment. It’s offering, at best, short-term support.”
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