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Online psychiatrists can help people manage mental health conditions that may require medication. Read through our best online psychiatry picks for a place to start your search.

Call 988 for mental health emergencies

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 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988.

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Like work meetings and fitness classes, psychiatry sessions can now be held online. 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.

*Some names have been changed at the request of testers.

PricingInsuranceServices offered
Talkspacestarts at $69 per week; $25 or less copayscovered by some health planstherapy and psychiatry that covers a range of conditions, such as anxiety and depression
Brightside Healthstarts at $95 per monthcovered by Cigna and Evernorth in every state where Brightside functions except Minnesota24/7 appointments for psychiatry/medication management and therapy
Talkiatryaverage is $25 per appointment with insurance coverage but can cost $325 to $414 without insuranceacceptedpsychiatry, medication management
Doctor on Demandstarts at $79 for a 15-minute consultationcovered by some health plans, but you have to create an account to know whether your network is acceptedtherapy and psychiatry that covers conditions such as PTSD, eating disorders, OCD, and depression
MDLivevaries based on insurance companycovered by some health planspsychiatry
Amwellstarts at $99 for therapy; $199 for psychiatry plus $95 follow-up visitscovered by some health planspsychiatry
LiveHealth Onlinevaries based on professionalaccepted for psychiatrypsychiatry

Healthline editors considered many factors when choosing the best online psychiatrist platforms, including quality, ease of use, industry standards, privacy, and user ratings.

Each service on this list has a network of board certified psychiatrists who offer telehealth appointments, so you can get a diagnosis and arrange prescriptions without setting foot in a doctor’s office.

After our list of key features, each platform goes through our rigorous vetting process, overseen by a team of mental health experts. This process uses specific criteria to ensure we’re making the best recommendations.

Factors we consider in the vetting process include:

  • whether the brand meets industry standards
  • whether the brand has a third-party certification
  • whether the brand meets appropriate federal, state, and industry regulations
  • whether any legal action has been taken against the brand

It’s important to note that you may not meet with a licensed psychiatrist when using one of these services. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can also prescribe medications for mental health conditions, so you may meet with one of those professionals instead.

Online psychiatry usually involves scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist and meeting with them virtually via a desktop computer, laptop, or mobile device somewhere with a secure internet connection.

You’ll need to meet with a psychiatrist to be evaluated for medications before you can start using them. Meeting with a psychiatrist online can help you get treatment quickly and without needing to travel to a physical location, making appointments easier to schedule.

An online psychiatric appointment isn’t much different from an in-person one. You’ll likely be able to see, hear, and interact with your psychiatrist using a telehealth platform or app. Your psychiatrist will be able to:

  • ask questions
  • send links to online assessments
  • send or receive private medical information
  • send prescriptions for medications directly to a pharmacy you choose
  • communicate with you through messaging features
  • view data from devices like smartwatches or other sensor technologies

Online psychiatry can be just as beneficial as in-person psychiatry, especially if you’re not able to make it to in-person appointments.

However, there are some possible downsides. You may have difficulty establishing a trusting relationship with your psychiatrist online, and you won’t be able to undergo other physical exams during your appointment.

When considering seeking the help of a psychiatrist, you might first want to consider why you’re looking for help. Some psychiatrists may provide general care, but some specialize in certain conditions, such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders.

Your primary care doctor may offer you suggestions for choosing a psychiatrist or even refer you to one in your area. If you’re looking for online services or a telehealth provider, the list above can be a good starting point.

Other factors to consider when picking the best online psychiatrist for you include insurance coverage, overall cost, and types of professionals.

If you don’t already have a therapist and you want to find one, this may be an important factor to consider. Therapists can work with psychiatrists to help create a plan of action for you.

Commitment level is also something to keep in mind. Certain online psychiatry platforms may require or offer a subscription. You may want to decide what level of commitment you’re looking for before signing up for anything. For example, are you already taking medications and looking to manage them, or are you interested in learning about your options?

Psychiatrist vs. therapist: What’s the difference?

Psychiatrists can prescribe medications and other treatments to manage more complex mental health issues. Psychologists, or therapists, can help you address symptoms through talk therapy by teaching you coping skills and offering behavioral changes.

Either mental health professional can offer guidance in terms of exploring any symptoms you’ve noticed, and they can help you take the necessary steps toward finding relief or treatment.

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Many people put off meeting with a psychiatrist out of fear or nervousness. If you’re not sure 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,” explained Tamir S. Aldad, MD, psychiatrist and CEO of Mindful Care.

“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 said.

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

It’s important to listen to yourself and understand that some events may require the guidance of a professional to help you work through feelings or events in a healthy way.

If your health insurance plan doesn’t cover psychiatry services or you can’t find an online platform in your network, platforms generally accept direct payment. Online platforms usually accept all the major debit and credit cards.

Otherwise, here are a couple other ways to pay for psychiatry services:

  • Insurance: Many online psychiatry services are in-network or out-of-network providers for specific insurance plans. Check with your insurance provider to see whether your plan covers any online psychiatry services, either partially or in full. Also, ask your insurance provider about any copays or deductibles that could affect your portion of the cost.
  • Financial aid: If you’ve ever heard of a sliding scale for therapy, financial aid works in a similar way. It allows people to pay for therapy or psychiatry services at a lower rate. This is more common among online therapy platforms than among online psychiatry platforms, but you can double-check with your psychiatrist to see if they offer any alternative payment methods.

Alternatively, you may be able to receive reimbursement from your health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA) or set up a payment plan to pay over time.

A psychiatrist may prescribe medication, therapy, or both upon making a diagnosis.

However, on some service platforms, online psychiatrists may not be able to prescribe certain medications, such as stimulants and controlled substances. These categories include some drugs used to treat ADHD and panic attacks.

Traditionally, there have been limits to the types of medication that online medical professionals — including psychiatrists — can prescribe.

Some medications, such as controlled substances, typically require an in-person visit. But the COVID-19 pandemic prompted the Drug Enforcement Administration to loosen some of these rules.

Now, medical professionals can prescribe controlled substances without an in-person visit. But this may change in the future.

Medications an online psychiatrist may prescribe include:

Many people see a psychiatrist because they can prescribe medications. However, psychiatrists don’t always offer therapy services, so people might wish to see a therapist as well.

Psychiatrists undergo psychotherapy training during their schooling, but they may not offer counseling services. Your psychiatrist can do therapy but may choose not to, encouraging collaboration between your therapist and psychiatrist.

A few professions fall under the umbrella of mental health professionals. While the terms “psychiatrist,” “psychologist,” and “therapist” are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.

The requirements to practice therapy can vary based on location, but mental health professionals usually hold credentials and licenses that indicate their level of training and expertise in mental health.

Those credentials, including any degrees obtained through higher education, dictate whether someone is a licensed and accredited therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist — or even a combination of those.

Research from 2016 suggests that online psychiatry can be an effective, affordable, and accessible alternative to face-to-face sessions.

In a 2015 study, some researchers suggested that younger people actually prefer telepsychiatry to traditional in-person psychiatry visits. Their research says telepsychiatry is especially effective for the treatment of PTSD, depression, and ADHD.

According to additional research from 2015, the growing body of evidence suggests online psychiatry services are effective, feasible, and comparable to conventional care in terms of patient and clinic satisfaction.

Before considering an online psychiatry service or mental health professional, make sure to check their credentials, making sure they received the appropriate training, degree, and licensure to provide the care you’re seeking.

There are also a number of organizations that certify or accredit professionals in different specialties. In psychiatry, one example of this is the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. These organizations administer tests or require certification that a professional performs a certain level of care.

Yes, you can see a psychiatrist with or without a referral. If you don’t have a referral, you can find a psychiatrist through your insurance network. Or, you can try to find someone who specializes in your mental health condition(s) or symptoms.

Yes. If you’re seeing a psychiatrist virtually, they’re still able to diagnose you with a mental health condition.

Psychiatrists can make medication recommendations and provide prescriptions for certain medications online. But some telehealth networks won’t prescribe medications like stimulants or controlled substances.

While online psychiatry isn’t the best fit for everyone, it’s 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 remotely and discreetly.