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Best Online Psychiatry Services 2024

Medically Reviewed and Edited by 
Olga Kyrychenko, Psychologist

Online psychiatry is the delivery of psychiatric evaluations and treatment over the internet. Licensed psychiatrists can provide evaluation, diagnosis, prescription, and therapy services just as effectively in a virtual setting.

Below, you can learn about the difference between a therapist and a psychiatrist, where to find the best online psychiatrists, how to reduce costs and what these treatments entail.

Top Virtual Psychiatry Sites Compared

Best for Medical Prescriptions
Brightside Review
Editorial Rating
94%
Pricing

$95 - $345 Per Month

Promo

$50 Off Your First Month

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Pros
  • Great flexibility with packages and possible treatments
  • therapists specialize in dealing with anxiety and depression
  • Modern platform with an excellent mobile app
  • Works with many insurance companies
Cons
  • Must pay before getting any treatment
  • You can’t choose your own therapist
Best With Insurance
talkspace review
Editorial Rating
93.2%
Pricing

$65 - $99 Per Week

Promo

$80 discount on the first month

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Pros
  • Guaranteed response time 5 days a week
  • Affordable price and insurance accepted
  • Excellent customer service
  • One week free trial
Cons
  • Getting matched with a therapist can take a few days
  • No live sessions included in the basic plan
Best For Same Day Appointments
Sesame review
Editorial Rating
92.1%
Pricing

$45 - $120 Per Meeting

Promo

20% Off First Meeting

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Pros
  • Same Day Appointments
  • Pick Your Own Therapist
  • Excellent customer service
  • Affordable Prices
Cons
  • Only live sessions - no chats or text messaging
  • No Mobile App
  • Doesn't Work With Insurance
Best Therapist Selection Process
Zocdoc Review
Editorial Rating
87.6%
Pricing

Varies by provider

Promo

No Available Promo

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Pros
  • Offers both online therapy and psychiatric services
  • Comprehensive therapist profiles with photo, complete info, price and other patient’s reviews
  • Works with many insurance companies
Cons
  • No Text messaging, chat or email services
  • Availability of therapists and the prices depend on location
Best Telehealth
Amwell review
Editorial Rating
83.3%
Pricing

$99 - $119 Per Meeting

Promo

No Promo Available

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Pros
  • Works with many insurance companies
  • Can combine therapy with psychiatric treatment
  • Excellent customer service
  • Great quality of Therapists
Cons
  • Only live sessions - no chats or text messaging
  • Not as many therapists to choose from

How We Choose The Best Online Psychiatric Care Providers

When assessing the quality of over-the-phone psychiatrists along with the platforms themselves, there will always be an element of subjectivity. However, by breaking down ratings into smaller categories, we can better assess individual elements with more objectivity. Furthermore, by taking the consensus of each platform’s reviews into account, we can quantify customer satisfaction which is a useful indicator.

The categories we rated each online psychiatrist platform on are: price, treatment options, the app and software, customer service, and safety and privacy. When putting these together, we arrive at an overall rating.

That said, just because one psychiatry telehealth company is rated higher than another, it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. It’s important to take into account one’s own needs to see if they align with the strengths of each platform. For example, some do not accept insurance or Medicare, which could be a deal-breaker for some.

Best For Medical Prescriptions - Brightside

Brightside Health is a 2017-founded telehealth company located in San Francisco Bay. In the short time that Brightside has been operating, they have built up a positive reputation quickly along with a fairly advanced tech platform.

Brightside claims to specialize in treating anxiety and depression. While they do provide psychiatric care, there are not too many therapists available – nor can the patient choose their therapist.

Even though the free assessment and fast appointments are useful, the platform isn’t appropriate for someone with mental health disorders beyond anxiety and depression.

However, the small team provides excellent customer service, some surprisingly fantastic software, and a very flexible pricing structure of $95 – $345 per month. Medication can be prescribed and they also work with Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, and Anthem.

Ultimately, this is a great option for managing online mental health prescriptions. You won’t get lost with the tight-knit team at Brightside, who will stay on top of your medical history and medication with close care.

Best With Insurance - Talkspace

Talkspace is the opposite of Brightside in many ways. Founded in 2012 and with half a billion in funding behind them, Talkspace has become something of an industry leader in the online therapy space. Unlike its core competitor BetterHelp, Talkspace offers online psychiatric evaluations along with medical prescriptions.

The cost of Talkspace ranges from $65 to $95 per week, though live sessions aren’t included in the lower price. Talkspace also works with a wide variety of insurance companies, Medicare, and depending on the state, Medicaid as well. 

Best Same Day Appointments - Sesame Care

Sesame Care is a 2018-founded telehealth company that is located in New York. Sesame’s core unique value proposition is that they can provide same-day, on-demand appointments. 

With a strong focus on providing immediate treatment and strong customer relations, customer satisfaction ranks very high. With a strong reputation such high-quality therapists, Sesame Care also ranks high for safety, too.

When it comes to the range of services available, Sesame Care falls short because it does not have a mobile app – only video and phone sessions are supported. Users can very freely choose their psychiatrist and see the subsequent price of each; this is good for some users, but bad for others who want things to be more flexible.

Ultimately, Sesame Care has a fairly competitive pricing and 20% off the first booking, but it does not accept insurance. It’s great for emergency care and same-day psychiatrist online appointments.

Best Therapists - Zocdoc

It’s not that Zocdoc Therapy necessarily has the best psychiatrists, but rather the fact you have by far the most selection over who’ll be helping you. Zocdoc operates in an extremely transparent fashion – much more so than other therapy provider.

As soon as you sign in for the first time, you’ll have access to very detailed provider profiles, including reviews from previous patients. You can then choose the one you like best and set up a quick appointment. The pay-per-meet module also means you are free to switch your psychiatrist and time you’d like. Zocdoc is also another platform which allows to easily combine psychiatric services with talk therapy.

The only reason this one isn’t higher up on the list is the fact you aren’t able to tell in advance how much it’ll cost you or how many therapists you’ll be able to choose from. Both of these strictly depend on the state you reside in, as well as the individual therapist declared rates. 

Best for Overall Telehealth Care - Amwell

Amwell has become an industry leader when it comes to credibility and authority. During its operations since 2006, Amwell has been offering a vast range of telehealth services, from online pediatrics and nutrition counseling to virtual psychiatry and urgent care.

Psychiatric assessments, evaluations, and treatment are all available. Getting mental health medication online is made easy – as there’s a lot of flexibility and responses are fast. 

Like Sesame, no chats or texting is allowed, nor are there quite as many psychiatrists available as some other competitors. But, Amwell works with many insurance companies, has great customer service, and a fairly competitive pricing structure of $99-$119 per meeting.

What’s The Difference Between a Psychiatrist and Therapist?

An online psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor. They can perform a full psychiatric evaluation and prescribe medication in response to the results. A therapist, while strictly licensed, cannot.

A therapist is usually a trained counselor or psychologist who performs talking therapy on patients to treat their mental health symptoms. For example, conducting Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to alleviate anxiety, depression, and OCD. 

But, if a patient is suffering from psychosis, schizophrenia, and other server disorders, then a psychiatric evaluation is needed. Generally, a psychiatrist does not administer talking therapy, which is why using an online platform that has both psychiatrists and therapists is often recommended.

When Should You See an Online Psychiatrist?

There are many symptoms that may indicate you should consider booking a virtual psychiatry session:

  • Changes to sleeping patterns
  • An inability to control emotions 
  • Hallucinations or misjudging reality
  • Intrusive thoughts that won’t go away
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Unexplained physical illnesses
  • Excessive sadness or anxiety
  • Nightmares or traumatic memories

While some of these symptoms may simply be a mental health condition that a therapist can adequately tackle, a psychiatric evaluation is a great first step. This will be the place in which you can receive a diagnosis from a trained doctor. 

If they believe you would benefit from CBT administered by a therapist, then this will be what they recommend. But, if it’s something more severe that potentially will require medication or more intensive psychiatric treatment, they can spot this in the assessment.

Does Online Psychiatry Work?

Online psychiatry works in a very similar way to regular face-to-face psychiatric care and results are comparable. The first session will be an assessment or evaluation which will determine what future sessions will look like. 

Even though there are some limitations, psychiatry is both effective and important in tackling mental illness in the US. Furthermore, there are fairly strong prerequisites in place before prescribing medication online – it’s a case of being extra safe to overcome any obstacles that arise from being remotely assessed.

Unlike online counseling, there are some limitations to online psychiatry. Firstly, physical examinations aren’t possible. The way around this, however, is for the company to organize a call-out doctor, or to simply get recent medical records from your current local doctor.

Secondly, psychiatrists may want to assess nonverbal behavior for more accurate readings of a patient. For example, autistic disorder can have symptoms coming from facial expressions, eye-to-eye gaze, and repetitive motor mannerisms. These can be used in an online video call, but not to the full capacity of a physical meeting. Schizophrenia, substance withdrawal, ADHD, and many other conditions also have nonverbal cues.

Benefits of Online Psychiatric Sessions

Receiving a proper psychiatric diagnosis means the patient can finally begin to accept their condition, educate themselves on it, connect with others that have it, and begin treatment to alleviate its negative symptoms. 

Online psychiatric sessions, like traditional face-to-face sessions, can lead to medication prescriptions and therapy sessions. Studies show that online psychodynamic counseling and CBT have similar results whether it’s in person or online.

Moreover, online psychiatric sessions yield many unique benefits. Most studies show telepsychiatry to be cheaper than face-to-face delivery, as well as more accessible and convenient. Certainly for those with mobility issues, living in rural areas, or with busy lives will significantly benefit from online sessions.

Finally, there is more choice with online psychiatry than in-person. An initial search of psychiatrists in Philadelphia – a large US city – yields fewer than 20 options on Google. For smaller US cities, even fewer options are available. On top of that, local sessions may be fully booked.

Many online psychiatrist platforms are available in all 50 states. Sometimes with thousands of therapists working for a single platform, this means there is far greater choice, availability, and flexibility with psychiatry telehealth.

Are Online Psychiatric Treatments Covered by Insurance?

When it comes to psychiatry in the US generally, around 59% of psychiatrists accept private insurance plans and 60% accept Medicare.

As mentioned above, many of the biggest online psychiatrist platforms accept insurance, Medicaid and Medicare. An online psychiatrist without insurance may still be affordable though, particularly compared to soaring prices of face to face treatments.

Not all telehealth platforms accept insurance, but the large online market means that there’s a good chance users will find one that does and that is the right platform for them.

What to Expect From Your First Online Psychiatric Session?

Initial sessions are always designed to assess the individual first before looking toward treatment. The first thing a psychiatrist will do is outline the assessment they’re about to conduct.

The things that the psychiatrist is assessing include: the problem as you perceive it, your general life, your thoughts, and possibly some physical examinations like blood pressure.

Some example questions may include “how can I help you?” and “what brings you here today?” – much like any doctor might. Psychiatrists are not trying to catch their patients off guard, nor deceive them. A family history of psychiatric issues will also be asked, as well as current medication.

Usually, the initial mental health assessment takes between 20 and 90 minutes.

Online Psychiatry - FAQ

Does online psychiatry work?

The field of psychiatry has, and has always had, controversies and points of debate. But, medication and psychiatric treatment on the whole are proven to be effective. And, when delivered online compared to in-person, studies show results are comparable.

How do online psychiatry appointments work?

Depending on the platform you choose, users will need to sign up, add their payment details, and schedule an initial assessment - this should take between 1 and 7 days. Likely a video call will be required for the assessment, in which you will find out any diagnosis, prescriptions, and subsequent treatment plan that lies ahead.

When should I seek help from a psychiatrist?

Whilst there is no single answer, if you experience mental health symptoms that are getting in the way of daily life, impacting your relationships or career, or putting your physical health in jeopardy, a psychiatric assessment is recommended. Besides costing more than a therapy session, there’s no downside to receiving an initial assessment as opposed to jumping straight into therapy.

Summary

The telehealth industry has made therapy and psychiatry cheaper and more accessible. Studies show that whilst there can be some unique limitations to receiving psychiatric evaluations over a video call, results are still comparable to in-person.

When it comes to the best online psychiatrist provider, it’s a matter of deciding on a couple of priorities. Firstly, whether or not you want to use insurance – as this can limit your options if so – and secondly, your budget.