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The Top 8 Online Psychiatry Services in 2021

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Online psychiatry services

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A quick look at the top online psychiatry services in 2021

  • Best app-based service: Talkspace
  • Best for flexible scheduling: MDLIVE
  • Best for collaborative care: Amwell
  • Best to choose your psychiatrist: Doctor on Demand
  • Best for à la carte appointments: LiveHealth Online
  • Best for local care: Teladoc
  • Best affordable option: Rethink My Healthcare
  • Best for medication delivery: Brightside

Like work meetings, fitness classes, and happy hours, psychiatry sessions can be held online now, too. Telemedicine is a safe and convenient way to seek mental health services in an increasingly virtual world.

If you’re considering seeing a psychiatrist but prefer to hold sessions remotely, online psychiatry may be an ideal arrangement.

Here are our top picks for online psychiatry services.

What is online psychiatry? 

Online therapy and psychiatry fall under the umbrella of telehealth and telemedicine services.

Instead of driving to your clinician’s office and speaking with them in-person, online mental health services allow you to communicate remotely.

Online therapy and online psychiatry differ in the same ways as face-to-face therapy and psychiatry. A licensed therapist can provide mental health counseling services, but they can’t prescribe medications. However, a psychiatrist can combine various forms of therapy with prescriptions.

Who should sign up for online psychiatry?

Many people put off seeing a psychiatrist out of fear or nervousness. If you’re unsure whether you should sign up for online psychiatry, consider your health history and any sudden changes in the way you feel physically and mentally.

“Individuals that are experiencing changes in their mood, sleep, and appetite, or have thoughts of harming themselves or other people should consider seeing a psychiatrist,” explains Tamir S. Aldad, MD, psychiatrist and CEO of Mindful Urgent Care.

Keep in mind

Online psychiatry is not a substitute for emergency services. In the event of a mental health emergency — if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else — call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Healthline

“If the patient feels that their symptoms are mild, starting with a therapist might be appropriate. Combining talk therapy with treatment involving medication has been shown to have better outcomes for some patients,” Aldad says.

Common reasons to see a psychiatrist include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • addiction
  • thoughts of suicide or self-harm
  • trouble sleeping
  • obsessive thinking
Healthline

Scheduling an online psychiatry appointment can also be a good fit if you need a psychiatric diagnosis, prescription medication, or second opinion.

How does online psychiatry work? 

Online psychiatry works a lot like online therapy. In addition to talk therapy through mediums like video calls, phone calls, and text, online psychiatrists can help with medication management.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an online psychiatry service. This may require inputting your health insurance information (if you have it) and choosing a psychiatrist.

Once you’re all signed up, you can set up appointments to speak with a psychiatrist from the comfort of your own home.

You’ll just need a secure internet connection and a computer, smartphone, or tablet to attend the appointments virtually.

Is online psychiatry effective?

Existing research suggests that online psychiatry can be an effective, affordable, and accessible alternative to face-to-face sessions.

Some researchers even suggest that younger patients actually prefer telepsychiatry to traditional in-person psychiatry visits. The evidence from these studies says that telepsychiatry is especially effective for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and ADHD.

The growing body of evidence suggests online psychiatry services are effective, feasible, and comparable to conventional care in terms of patient and clinic satisfaction.

How we chose

We considered many criteria when choosing the best online psychiatry services, including quality, ease of use, and user ratings.

All our recommendations have a network of board certified psychiatrists who offer telehealth appointments, so diagnoses and prescriptions can be arranged without stepping foot in a doctor’s office.

Healthline’s picks for the 8 best online psychiatry services

1. Best app-based service

Talkspace

Being able to schedule and attend your psychiatric visits from your smartphone is one of the appeals to online therapy apps like Talkspace. Everything can be done at home from your fingertips — from the easy sign-up process to communicating via live video chat.

After filling out a brief assessment, Talkspace will match you with a licensed psychiatrist who can diagnose mental illnesses, prescribe medications, and conduct therapy sessions as needed. Talkspace psychiatrists can help with an array of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and more. You can also switch doctors at any time if you feel the match isn’t quite right.

  • Cost: Initial evaluations cost $199 and follow-up visits cost $125 each.
  • Coverage: Talkspace is covered by some health insurance companies and employers. Refer to their full list of partners to see if you qualify for psychiatric care that’s covered in part or fully.

2. Best for flexible scheduling

MDLIVE

One of the pain points of scheduling doctor’s appointments is sticking to conventional business hours. MDLIVE’s online psychiatry services may appeal to those with tight schedules, since they offer appointments during the evenings and weekends. Doctors are on call 24/7 for around-the-clock mental healthcare.

Online appointments can take place over the phone or via video chat. If you don’t want to wait weeks for a psychiatric appointment, you can usually schedule an appointment through MDLIVE within days. Though your psychiatrist may live in another city than you, they’re able to send prescriptions to your local pharmacy for pickup.

  • Cost: Depending on your insurance, MDLIVE psychiatric care can cost up to $284 per initial visit and $108 per follow-up appointment.
  • Coverage: Some health insurance companies and employers cover MDLIVE psychiatric care. This can help cover some or all associated costs.

3. Best for collaborative care

Amwell

Amwell isn’t just an online therapy and psychiatry service, they cover other types of medicine with board certified doctors available for direct-to-patient communication. If you’ve ever wished you could speak with your care team from the comfort of your own home, Amwell is one solution.

Amwell’s behavioral health services include a network of more than 100 board certified psychiatrists who specialize in medication evaluations and ongoing medication management. Amwell psychiatrists can address mental health conditions such as eating disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, cognitive disorders, depression, insomnia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD.

While some online psychiatry services only offer mental healthcare, Amwell offers collaborative care so communication can occur between your psychiatrist and primary care doctor.

  • Cost: An initial consultation with a psychiatrist costs $269. Follow-up appointments last about 15 minutes and cost $99 each.
  • Coverage: A select list of health insurance providers cover Amwell visits. When signing up, you can input your health insurance information to see if you qualify for partially or fully covered visits.

4. Best to choose your psychiatrist

Doctor On Demand

If you want to bypass the process of being matched with a psychiatrist and choose your own instead, consider Doctor On Demand. The service’s total virtual care includes 24/7 access to doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, and other medical experts. This can offer you peace of mind that care is always available and easily accessible from a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Though care is virtual, it’s still personal. Visits occur over a secure video connection. Your personal information will not be shared with anyone, including your primary care physician, unless explicitly requested.

  • Cost: Psychiatry appointments are available for $299 per initial consultation and $129 per follow-up appointment.
  • Coverage: Some employers and health insurance companies cover psychiatric care through Doctor On Demand. Follow the steps during registration to see if your health plan is supported.

5. Best for à la carte appointments

LiveHealth Online

People who need help with medication management may need to see a psychiatrist on a regular basis. If you’ve never seen a psychiatrist and would like an initial evaluation, LiveHealth Online is a good option since the platform allows à la carte appointments without requiring an ongoing subscription.

If you’re worried about the quality of online mental health services, telemedicine is LiveHealth Online’s specialty. All doctors are specifically trained to perform health visits online, so patients never feel they’re missing out on the face-to-face experience that in-person appointments offer.

  • Cost: Before insurance, initial evaluations cost $175 and follow-up appointments are available for $75 per visit.
  • Coverage: Some health plans cover LiveHealth Online psychiatry visits. Without insurance, patients are responsible for the full cost of their care.

6. Best for local care

Teladoc

Communicating through phone, video, or text may make it seem as though your psychiatrist is on the other side of the planet. Through Teladoc appointments, your psychiatrist is closer than you think. Teladoc gives you the option of selecting a professional local to your area.

According to Teladoc, the service offers access to the top 5 percent of specialists in the world and a 90 percent satisfaction rate. Their quality care professionals can review your mental health history and treatment plan to customize care to your needs.

Teladoc psychiatrists can prescribe medications, except for controlled substances or medications for the treatment of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, since prescriptions for these drugs require in-person care and ongoing monitoring. However, people with these conditions can still use the service for guidance or other medications. Teladoc psychiatrists are able to offer prescriptions for antidepressants, some anti-anxiety medications, and some antipsychotics.

  • Cost: Psychiatric visits cost $229 for the first visit and $119 for each follow-up visit.
  • Coverage: Depending on the type of care you’re requesting, some health insurance plans cover the full cost of Teladoc visits.

7. Best most affordable option

Rethink My Healthcare

Psychiatric visits are typically more expensive than therapy sessions since psychiatrists undergo specialized education that allows them to prescribe medications. Without health insurance, these costs can add up quickly. Rethink My Health is an affordable online psychiatry service that makes mental healthcare accessible to people with varying budgets.

The service’s monthly subscription includes ongoing access to primary care physicians, therapists, and psychiatrists for collaborative care. Care is primarily provided via video as best practice for behavioral health sessions, but phone visits are also available as a secondary option.

The network of psychiatrists are able to give ongoing medication management services for eating disorders, anxiety, depression, OCD, PTSD, and more. If you’re interested in bundling your telemedicine and telehealth needs, Rethink My Healthcare can help.

  • Cost: Rethink My Healthcare offers 24/7 access to virtual primary care and $0 copay for virtual therapy and psychiatry appointments for a $99 monthly subscription.
  • Coverage: Rethink My Healthcare doesn’t accept health insurance. They offer simple, affordable payment terms so patients can seek care without relying on insurance companies.

8. Best for medication delivery

Brightside

Well-known telehealth platform BetterHelp partnered with Brightside to deliver prescription medications to patients who need them. This is ideal for people with anxiety and depression, though people with other mental health conditions can seek treatment with Brightside.

Members get unlimited messaging to professionals who specialize in anxiety and depression treatment. Treatment plans also include monthly video sessions with a licensed therapist and regular communication with your psychiatrist.

  • Cost: Brightside offers three plans: Medication, Therapy, and Medication & Therapy. The plan to provide both therapy and medication costs $299 per month plus $15 per prescription.
  • Coverage: Brightside doesn’t accept health insurance, though they do accept HSA and FSA payments.

Takeaway

While online psychiatry isn’t the best fit for everyone, it is a convenient and accessible option for many to seek treatment on their own time and in their own home.

If you’re looking for mental health services that offer a little more than talk therapy, psychiatry can also provide medication management in a remote and discreet way.


Lacey Bourassa is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting her website or her blog.

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