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Cerebral is an online mental health tool that offers medication management and mental health counseling. The company provides services to those who are uninsured and also works with insurance companies to help users get discounts and reimbursements.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults live with mental illness.

While mental health issues are pervasive, stigmas and barriers can often prevent people from getting the help they need. Though mental health is proven to have a direct impact on physical health, it can often be left by the wayside.

Now more than ever, the conversation around mental health is shifting, thanks to social media and access to online therapy and telemedicine.

Cerebral, sometimes referred to as Get Cerebral and founded in 2019, is an online mental health tool providing both medication management and counseling.

Keep reading to learn how Cerebral may help you find the treatment you need.

Pros

  • There are multiple plans available based on customer needs.
  • Cerebral offers convenient and accessible mental health care.
  • They offer low cost prescriptions.
  • The company works with insurance companies to help customers get coverage and reimbursements.
  • Cerebral is available to those who are uninsured.
  • They’re FSA and HSA eligible.

Cons

  • Cerebral therapy services are not available in all states.
  • The services are not suitable for severe mental health conditions or circumstances, including manic episodes, substance use, schizophrenia, and suicidal ideation.
  • Cerebral is not recommended for those who are pregnant or nursing.
  • The services are only available to clients ages 18 years and older.
  • They’re unable to prescribe controlled substances, like stimulants, including ADHD medications (they do, however, prescribe non-stimulant ADHD medications in most states).

Cerebral is a mental health subscription platform that provides customers with ongoing, comprehensive access to online care and medication management for anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

The company provides access to medical professionals, care counselors, and licensed therapists for a monthly flat fee.

Online services, like Cerebral, reduce barriers to mental health care. The company has a mission to improve access to high quality mental health care with its one-stop-shop approach.

Their telemedicine format also makes connecting with a care team simple for those with limited schedules.

Sign-up process

Signing up for Cerebral takes a matter of minutes and can be done from your phone or computer. You’ll be asked to take a brief psychological assessment to determine which plan is best for you.

After signing up, you’ll get a prompt to schedule your first video or phone call to determine your treatment plan. Typically, the wait time for the appointment is less than 7 days, but occasionally it may take longer.

If you have an urgent request, you can sign into your account and message your account coordinator through the in-app live chat system. If any earlier appointments are available, you’ll be able to schedule one at this time.

If you’re prescribed medication, it’ll be delivered monthly (you cannot pick it up from a local pharmacy). The delivery cost is included in the cost of your subscription, but the actual cost of your medication will be billed separately. This makes it easier for you to request coverage from your insurance company. If your medication is not covered by your insurance or you’re paying out of pocket, most medications cost $10, although some may be more expensive.

Next, you’ll be matched with a care counselor or therapist, depending on your selected plan.

Membership plans

Cerebral offers three membership plans that address medication management, counseling, and online treatment.

Available as a mobile app and a web-based site, Cerebral offers ongoing support with doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants (PAs) — which they call prescribing providers — and your care counselor or therapist.

Medication and Care Counseling plan

The plan includes:

  • evaluation, diagnosis and prescription by a prescribing provider, plus ongoing phone or video meetings
  • monthly medication delivery
  • monthly phone or video meetings with a care counselor who will share behavioral health techniques and coping mechanisms
  • unlimited care team messaging
  • access to a medical professional for questions and concerns
  • regular progress tracking by your prescribing provider and counselor

If you’re paying out of pocket, this plan costs $99 per month. With in-network insurance, it costs $29 monthly, plus a copay per visit. Medications are billed separately.

Cerebral’s team of care counselors are trained in therapeutic techniques, but not all counselors are licensed therapists.

Care counseling is not currently offered in Missouri and Oklahoma.

Medication and Coaching plan

The plan includes:

  • evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription by a prescribing provider
  • monthly medication delivery with no added shipping fee
  • weekly video or phone sessions with a licensed therapist
  • ongoing, secure messaging with your therapist at any time
  • access to a medical professional for questions and concerns
  • regular progress tracking by your prescribing provider and therapist

If you’re paying out of pocket, this plan costs $325 per month. With in-network insurance, it costs $29 monthly, plus a copay per visit. Medications are billed separately.

Currently, the Medication and Therapy plan is available in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Cerebral is working to expand its network of licensed therapists and serve additional states.

Coaching plan

This plan includes:

  • weekly video or phone sessions with a licensed therapist
  • ongoing, secure messaging with your therapist at any time
  • regular progress tracking by your therapist

If you’re paying out of pocket, this plan costs $259 per month. With in-network insurance, it costs $29 monthly, plus a copay per visit.

Like the previous plan, therapy is available online to clients in the 32 aforementioned states.

Making the decision to seek out a counselor or therapist is a big step toward improving your health. While visiting a doctor’s office can feel intimidating, telemedicine may feel more approachable and convenient.

Cerebral is a great fit for people who feel anxious going into an office or have little time to commute to a doctor.

Your medical condition could determine whether Cerebral is the right fit for you. The company is best suited for those experiencing depression, anxiety, or insomnia.

If you’re unsure about your condition, you can take a free psychological assessment before signing up to meet with a professional. You can also sign up and talk with a licensed professional who can do an evaluation and provide a diagnosis before proceeding with treatment and deciding on a monthly plan.

Though Cerebral has a trained team of counselors and prescribing providers, there are several conditions and circumstances the company says they should not be used for, including:

  • substance use
  • schizophrenia
  • suicidal ideation
  • pregnancy or nursing

Keep in mind

Cerebral 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.

While Cerebral states they can treat bipolar disorder, they might not be able to manage medication for this condition.

Likewise, patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cannot receive prescribed stimulant drugs for their treatments, unless they live in Washington.

Regardless of your condition, seeking out help is an important commitment to your overall well-being.

A profusion of online services has become available over the last 25 years, allowing researchers to study the effects of internet-based counseling.

There is still limited research on the success of telemedicine and mental health apps, but the findings are promising.

Research indicates that online cognitive behavior therapy yields equivalent results to face-to-face therapy. A 2019 review of outpatient telehealth determined that virtual psychiatry decreased negative symptoms and increase overall remission rates.

That being said, there have been few studies of psychiatric and somatic conditions so far. For the majority, internet-based cognitive behavioral therapy (ICBT) hasn’t been compared to face-to-face treatments.

More research with larger samples sizes is needed to determine how well they compare to one another.

Convenience is a huge draw to online therapy. If you like being in an office or seeing your therapist in person, you may miss out on some nuances and small comforts you’d find in an office setting.

Cerebral’s plans range from $99 to $325 per month for those paying out of pocket. Discounted prices are available for the first month. If you’re worried about commitment, plans are billed monthly and can be canceled at any time.

The plans are priced as follows:

PlansCost
Medication and Care Counseling$99 monthly
Therapy$259 monthly
Medication and Therapy$325 monthly

In-network insurance coverage

One benefit of Cerebral is that they work with some major health insurance companies.

Clients who use an in-network insurance carrier only pay $29 per month for the service for all plans, along with the cost of the medication and a copay per visit, which varies by insurance company.

Out-of-network assistance

If Cerebral doesn’t accept your insurance provider, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck paying full price.

Cerebral’s Automated Money Back program helps customers get reimbursements, which helps most members save between 30 to 60% of the subscription cost.

If you have your insurance information on file with Cerebral, the company will submit claims to your insurer for you. If you qualify for reimbursement, you can expect a check from your insurance company 3 to 6 weeks after each monthly billing payment.

If you’re uninsured, Cerebral will treat you at the full subscription cost.

FSA and HSA eligibility

Cerebral’s mental health offerings are eligible for coverage with flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and health saving accounts (HSAs).

If your program requires a receipt for reimbursement, the company’s customer support team can provide you with an itemized receipt.

Medication pricing

Prescription medications are billed outside of Cerebral’s subscription cost. If your insurance company is covering Cerebral, you’ll pay the copay or deductible cost designated by your insurance provider.

Medications are usually $10 for self-paying customers, but they may cost more depending on the prescription.

Privacy is a valid concern when looking for a mental health service. Sensitive information relating to your health is protected by the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) on Cerebral’s website and app.

Personal health information collected by Cerebral may be used to share with providers and insurers, but this data is only used to help them perform their services and respond to your medical and mental health care professionals and insurers.

Cerebral has more than 26,000 reviews in the Apple App Store, with an average 4.6-star rating, and more than 4,000 reviews on TrustPilot with an average 4-star rating.

Most reviews are positive and applaud Cerebral’s quality counselors, ease of use, medication tracking, and helpful care team.

Many reviewers say Cerebral was “life changing,” and they express that they feel heard by their counselor.

Some reviewers say their care team makes them feel comfortable and that using the online service circumvents the anxiety they have visiting a therapy office.

While most reviews are positive, there are still some complaints that reviewers raise. Customers have raised concerns about:

  • difficult refill process and delays in prescription delivery
  • claims that healthcare professionals or counselors have missed virtual appointments
  • delayed replies to questions regarding prescription concerns

Earlier in 2022, a former Cerebral employee filed a labor lawsuit against the company. They stated that they were fired after claiming the platform is too quick to prescribe stimulant medications to its clients.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently investigating the platform for overprescribing medications, a possible violation of the Controlled Substances Act.

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) also performed a review and interviewed former employees about existing issues with clinician licensing and allegations about patients creating more than one Cerebral account to receive more drugs.

Additionally, in 2021, Cerebral was criticized for its treatment of employees after changing more than 200 people from salaried to hourly pay.

There are hundreds of telehealth apps in the mental health space to consider, so it’s worth breaking down how Cerebral stacks up.

Psychiatry

One unique advantage of Cerebral is its ability to prescribe psychiatric medication.

Cerebral vs. Brightside

Brightside is another top telemedicine contender in the mental health space, offering similar services to Cerebral.

Brightside allows users to partake in a medication plan with access to a healthcare professional ($95), medication and therapy plan ($349), and therapy plan ($299). The plans offer promotional rates for the first month, but they are more expensive than Cerebral long term.

Brightside’s medication plan does not feature a care counselor like Cerebral. However, Brightside has therapy and medication plans in all 50 states.

Cerebral vs. Talkspace

Like Cerebral, Talkspace, another popular mental health app, offers three subscription plans:

  • Messaging therapy: includes unlimited text, video, and audio messaging, with daily responses from a therapist 5 days a week
  • Live plus messaging therapy: includes everything in the messaging therapy plan, plus four live 45-minute sessions per month
  • Live therapy: includes four 45 minute live sessions each month, but no messaging.

Plans range from around $69 to $129 per week, billed monthly, quarterly, or biannually. Psychiatry services come as an add-on component but at a significantly higher price of $249 for an introductory consultation and $125 for future appointments.

While there are options to schedule live video sessions, most of the communication on Talkspace is done via text messaging. Many people find this convenient, but the drawback is that it can take a while to get a response. While you can send messages 24/7, therapists respond as they become available, 5 days a week.

Talkspace may be covered by your insurance company. FSA and HSA dollars may also be used.

Therapy

Cerebral vs. BetterHelp

Both Cerebral and BetterHelp provide unlimited text therapy and a video chat component, but BetterHelp also offers group therapy called “groupinars” where you can connect with others who are experiencing similar life events.

BetterHelp also allows you to choose a preference for your therapist, like a therapist of color, a therapist from the LGBTQ+ community, or a non-religious therapist.

Unlike Cerebral, BetterHelp does not provide psychiatry services or offer medication as part of the treatment plan. Therapy services are available in all states, though, compared to the 32 where Cerebral has licensed professionals.

Prices range from $60 to $90 per week (billed monthly) and depend on how many live sessions you schedule. BetterHelp does not accept insurance, and the website notes that while the specifics differ between insurance companies, coverage is typically limited.

CerebralBrightsideTalkspaceBetterHelp
Services offered
care and medication management for depression, anxiety, and insomnia
medication and talk therapy planstalk therapy, couples therapy, online psychiatric evaluation, and medication managementindividual therapy for adults, teen therapy,
couples therapy
Pricing$99 to $325 monthly$95 to $349 monthly$69 to $129 per week$60 to $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks)
Best forpeople with depression, anxiety, and insomniapeople looking for a flexible way to address symptoms of depression or anxietypeople with anxiety,
addiction,
depression,
eating disorders, or PTSD
people seeking help with stress,
anxiety,
relationships, depression, trauma,
addiction, or self-esteem issues
Customer reviews4 stars2.2 stars1.2 stars4.6 stars

Mental health is a critical part of your general well-being. Yet, people may have difficulty when making the decision about when it’s time to seek professional help. It’s important to remember that there’s help and support available, regardless of what you’re going through.

If you don’t feel like your usual self or find it challenging to get through the day, it might be time to seek help. Likewise, if you begin to feel or behave differently or lose interest in the things you love, you may want to consider talking with a professional.

Overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety, and sadness may be a sign that you should see someone. Additionally, if you’re going through a big life change, like the loss of a loved one, divorce, or moving, you may want to seek help from a mental health professional who can assist with guiding you through difficult feelings.

Trustworthy mental health professionals can provide support, guidance, and practical tools to help you through hard times. So if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It could be the best decision you ever make.

Is there a Cerebral mobile app?

Yes. You can access your account through Cerebral’s main website or download the free app and keep your counselors close whenever you need them.

What conditions can Cerebral care teams treat?

Cerebral is always working to expand its team of licensed professionals and the conditions they can treat, but right now, Cerebral is best for:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • postpartum depression (Cerebral is not recommended for those who are breastfeeding.)
  • menopausal depression
  • ADHD (in certain states)
  • Bipolar disorder (in certain states)
  • PTSD (in certain states)

Who shouldn’t use online counseling/Cerebral?

Cerebral is best suited for those with mild to moderate symptoms. If you’re experiencing a severe mental illness, a mental health crisis, and/or suicidal ideation, you should seek in-person immediate help. Cerebral is also not a fit for those seeking treatment for substance misuse.

What medications does Cerebral prescribe?

Cerebral prescribes various medications for:

  • ADHD
  • alcohol dependence
  • anxiety
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • menopausal depression
  • postpartum depression
  • trauma and PTSD

Cerebral does not offer stimulant medications and certain anxiety medications, such as Xanax or Ativan. Your location may affect the medications that can be prescribed.

Telehealth has made mental health care accessible and affordable. While research for online apps and platforms is limited, online mental health services can be a cost-efficient and effective approach to treatment.

If you’re looking for an all-in-one approach to your mental health care that covers psychiatry and counseling, Cerebral offers help at a low cost.

Cerebral should not be used if you’re experiencing a severe mental illness or looking for substance use treatment.

Jillian Goltzman is a freelance journalist covering culture, social impact, wellness, and lifestyle. She’s been published in various outlets, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, and Fodor’s Travel Guide. Outside of writing, Jillian is a public speaker who loves discussing the power of social media — something she spends too much time on. She enjoys reading, her houseplants, and cuddling with her corgi. Find her work on her website, blog, Twitter, and Instagram.