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Online psychiatrists can be a more accessible alternative to in-person visits. Here are our top picks for the best online psychiatry services. Could one of these be right for you?
- Best overall: Talkspace | Skip to review
- Best for medication delivery: Brightside | Skip to review
- Best for a female-centric approach: Hers | Skip to review
- Best for flexible scheduling: MDLIVE | Skip to review
- Best for collaborative care: Amwell | Skip to review
- Best for choosing your own psychiatrist: Doctor on Demand | Skip to review
- Best for a la carte appointments: LiveHealth Online | Skip to review
- Best for local care: Teladoc | Skip to review
- Best for regular medication management: Talkiatry | Skip to review
Like work meetings and fitness classes, 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.
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.
We considered many factors when choosing the best online psychiatry services, including quality, ease of use, and user ratings.
Some factors we considered in the vetting process include:
- whether the brand meets industry standards
- if there is a third-party certification
- whether the brand meets appropriate federal, state, or industry regulations
- if any legal action has been taken against the brand
Each service recommended in this list has a network of board certified psychiatrists who offer telehealth appointments, so diagnoses and prescriptions can be arranged without setting foot in a doctor’s office.
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 these professionals instead.
|Talkspace||$199 initially, then $125 for each appointment||covered by some health plans||therapy and psychiatry that covers a range of conditions, like anxiety disorders, depression||• easy to switch professionals|
• unable to prescribe some medications
|Brightside||$349 per month||covered by Cigna and Evernorth in every state Brightside functions except Minnesota||24/7 appointments for psychiatry/medication management and therapy||• easy platform to maintain care and manage anxiety or depression|
• focused only on treating depression
|Hers||$85 per month for prescriptions, $39 per visit||not accepted||psychiatry, medication management, therapy||• can consult with professionals before committing|
• communication via online messaging only
|MDLIVE||$284 initially, then $108 for each appointment||covered by some health plans||psychiatry||• you can meet with a psychiatrist whenever is convenient for you|
• unable to prescribe some medications
|Amwell||$279 initially, then $109 for each appointment||covered by some health plans||psychiatry||• pairs psychiatry with other services|
• not all insurance plans cover Amwell
|Doctor on Demand||$299 initially, then $129 for each appointment||covered by some health plans, but you have to create an account to know if your network is accepted||therapy and psychiatry that covers conditions like PTSD, eating disorders, OCD, depression||• offers both mental health professionals and other professionals|
• choice of professional is limited in particular areas
|LiveHealth Online||$175 initially, then $75 for each appointment||accepted for psychiatry||psychiatry||• choose from a variety of specialties without subscribing|
• can take up to 2 weeks to secure an appointment
• does not prescribe controlled substances
|Teladoc||$299 initially, then $119 for each appointment||accepted for psychiatry||psychiatry||• able to choose a professional in your area|
• treatments for some conditions are not offered
|Talkiatry||average is $25 per appointment with insurance coverage but can cost $325–$414 without insurance||accepted||psychiatry, medication management||$100 cancellation fee if you cancel your appointment with less than 48 hours notice|
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.
Seeing an online psychiatrist may consist of going over your existing mental health and medication history, talking about medication-based treatment options, and potentially receiving a diagnosis.
There are a few professions that fall under the umbrella of mental health professionals. While psychiatrist, psychologist, and therapist are often used interchangeably, they are not the same.
The requirements to practice therapy can vary based on location, but therapists 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 therapist, psychiatrist, or psychologist — or even a combination of them.
“Therapist” is a more broad term used to describe someone who is licensed to practice therapy in order to improve mental health symptoms and manage the stressors of life. A therapist can be a licensed counselor or social worker, for example.
A therapist usually obtains a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree in psychology, so many therapists are psychologists and vice versa.
Not all therapists are psychologists, however, since some obtain a degree in a related field outside of psychology. Similarly, not all psychologists practice therapy. Some psychologists conduct research in their field and don’t perform therapy services.
Psychologists and therapists tend to approach therapy similarly, but psychologists may have additional education and training. A clinical psychologist may have a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD).
One of the most important distinctions, however, is between a therapist and a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is considered a doctor since they complete medical school and hold MD or DO credentials.
Only psychiatrists can combine various forms of therapy with prescription medications, though some don’t practice therapy at all.
A licensed therapist can provide mental health counseling services, but they can’t prescribe medications. For that reason, some people see both a therapist and psychiatrist who work in conjunction to combine therapy with medication.
Many people put off meeting with 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.
“If the patient feels that their symptoms are mild, starting with a therapist might be appropriate. Combining talk therapy with treatment involving medication
Common reasons to see a psychiatrist include:
- thoughts of suicide or self-harm
- trouble sleeping
- obsessive thinking
Scheduling an online psychiatry appointment can also be a good fit if you need a psychiatric diagnosis, prescription medication, or a second opinion.
When considering the help of a psychiatrist, you may first want to consider why you are seeking help. Psychiatrists may provide general care, but some specialize in certain areas of therapy, like:
- anxiety disorders
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- bipolar disorder
- major depression
- substance use disorders
Your primary care doctor may offer you suggestions for selecting a psychiatrist, or even refer you to a local provider. If you are looking for online services or a telehealth provider, the list above can be a good starting point.
Some factors to take into account when picking the best online psychiatrist for you include:
- Insurance coverage: Is it important to you for your online psychiatrist or platform to accept your insurance network?
- Cost: You’ll want to keep your budget in mind when picking an online psychiatrist, especially if you intend to meet with them regularly.
- Conditions covered: Some mental health conditions may be better treated with in-person care. These conditions may include substance use disorders, eating disorders, or more severe depression conditions.
- Commitment level: Certain online psychiatry platforms may require or offer a subscription. You may want to decide what type of commitment level 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?
- Types of professionals: If you don’t already have a therapist and want to find one, this may be an important factor to consider. It may be easier for you to have all your mental health care professionals on one platform.
The cost of online psychiatry services can vary greatly. Each online service sets its own rate and policies regarding payment methods and insurance coverage.
Many online services offer ongoing subscriptions, which can affect the cost depending on which you choose. Generally, the more weekly or monthly sessions you attend, the lower the price per session.
While the cost per session ultimately depends on the provider and plan you choose as well as whether your insurance covers all or part of the cost, regular appointments average around $100.
How to pay
There are a few main ways to pay for online 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 if any online psychiatry services are covered — partially or in full — by your plan. You should ask your insurance provider about any copays or deductibles that could affect what your portion of the cost would be. This could significantly reduce the cost, allowing you to attend sessions at low or no cost.
- Pay out of pocket: If your health insurance plan doesn’t cover psychiatry services or you can’t find an online provider in your network, platforms generally accept direct payment. Online providers usually accept all the major debit and credit cards.
- 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 than online psychiatry platforms, however.
Other options include reimbursement from your HSA and FSA accounts and setting up a payment plan to pay over time.
In a 2015 study, some researchers even suggested that younger people actually prefer telepsychiatry to traditional in-person psychiatry visits. The research says telepsychiatry is especially effective for the treatment of PTSD, depression, and ADHD.
According to a 2015 research review, the growing body of evidence suggests online psychiatry services are effective, feasible, and comparable to conventional care in terms of patient and clinic satisfaction.
Online psychiatry works a lot like online therapy. In addition to talk therapy via video calls, phone calls, and text messaging, online psychiatrists can help with medication management.
To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an online psychiatry service. This may require entering your health insurance information (if you have it) and choosing a psychiatrist.
Once you’re 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.
There are several instances when meeting with a psychiatrist might alleviate negative or overwhelming feelings, including when you’re experiencing:
- loss and grief
- stress and anxiety
- family and relationship issues
- substance use disorder
In other instances, you might want to talk with a psychiatrist to improve your overall state of mind. This could mean meeting with a psychiatrist to manage:
- a mental health condition
- performance enhancement
- mental clarity
Ultimately, there are many reasons why you might want to start meeting with a psychiatrist. It’s important to listen to yourself and understand that some events may require the guidance of a professional to work through feelings or events in a healthy way.
You can consider following some self-care strategies to complement your therapy sessions and any prescribed treatments to support your mental well-being every day.
Some of these strategies include:
- getting restful sleep each night
- cutting back on screen time and social media
- strengthening relationships with loved ones
- doing enjoyable physical activity
- adding nutrient-rich foods to your diet
- spending more time in nature
To find more self-care strategies, you can check out our mental well-being hub.
Choosing a counselor, therapist, or psychologist is a very personal decision. Everyone has different needs when it comes to psychological help. Below are some things to consider when making your choice.
How much does online psychiatry cost?
Depending on your insurance coverage, talking with an online psychiatrist can cost anywhere from $100–$300 for an initial consult. Sometimes it may be as high as $500.
Follow-up appointments typically average $100 per session.
Can online psychiatrists prescribe medication?
Once they’ve made a diagnosis, a psychiatrist may prescribe medication, therapy, or both.
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 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, online 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:
Can my psychiatrist also do therapy?
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.
Are online psychiatrists legit?
This is an important and valid question to ask when considering an online psychiatry service — or any psychiatry service, for that matter.
Check the credentials of any healthcare professional, making sure they received the appropriate training, degree, and licensure to provide the care you are 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 provider performs a certain level of care.
Checking the credentials and training of providers is a part of Healthline’s vetting process and was considered in the creation of this list.
What is the difference between teletherapy and telepsychiatry?
Whether they are offered online or in person, therapy and psychiatry services differ in two key ways.
Therapy usually refers to psychological services like counseling. These services are provided by a trained therapist, counselor, or psychologist. These professionals are trained to perform certain types of therapies but cannot prescribe medications.
Psychiatrists, whether online or in person, are specially trained to make medical diagnoses and prescribe medications to treat various mental health conditions.
Can I see a psychiatrist without a referral?
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.
Can you be diagnosed by a psychiatrist online?
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 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 remotely and discreetly.
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.