Online psychiatry: Where to go

Psychiatrists are licensed medical professionals who can treat mental health conditions and prescribe medication. Traditionally, people had to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist in person. However, some companies now operate an online psychiatry system. Online psychiatry allows a person to communicate with a psychiatrist via a video chat or phone call.

Learn more about psychiatrists.

Online psychiatrists may be beneficial for people who cannot see a psychiatrist in person. These professionals may be able to diagnose and treat mental health conditions without an in-person appointment.

The form of online psychiatry sessions varies among different companies and may also depend on the client’s preferences.

For instance, some companies may offer phone calls, video calls, and messaging, with the client able to choose which contact method they would prefer.

Some online psychiatry providers require a person to subscribe to their service and pay a monthly subscription fee. Others will require a person to pay a one-off fee for the initial consultation and further fees for any follow-up appointments.

People may wish to consider how frequently they would use this service to determine the most cost effective plan for them.

Research suggests that video-based psychiatry is reliable and effective. A review found that video-based, e-health, and telephone forms of psychiatry are comparable to in-person psychiatry when treating depression, PTSD, schizophrenia, eating disorders, anxiety, and substance use.

Additionally, the author notes that video and telephone psychiatry is effective for the following groups of people:

  • children and adolescents
  • older adults
  • people in prisons and other correctional facilities
  • people attending the emergency department with mental health problems

This research also suggests that video-based psychiatry may lead to more culturally appropriate care for American Indian veterans and the Hispanic community. However, more research is necessary in this area.

People can choose from several online psychiatry services. While all psychiatrists are qualified to treat mental health conditions, some may have more experience than others with a certain mental health condition. Many online psychiatry services offer people the choice of several psychiatrists.

Please note that the writer has not tested these services. All information is research-based.

Talkspace

Talkspace has an app that allows a person to make appointments and manage their profile.

The client fills in a brief assessment, and the company then matches them with a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner in their state who can help them with their needs. A licensed prescriber conducts these sessions, and they can prescribe medication if necessary. Each session will be with the same professional.

An initial appointment costs $199, and follow-up appointments cost $125. A person’s insurance plan may cover some of the cost of Talkspace appointments.

Talkspace is available on iOS and Android.

LiveHealth Online

LiveHealth Online offers online psychiatry appointments, as well as other medical appointments.

The company’s board certified psychiatrists have completed training in online psychiatry. People can use this service and make appointments at any time during the week. They can choose which doctor they would like to speak with after reading about their qualifications and experiences.

It is free to create an account with LiveHealth Online. However, at the time of publishing, an initial consultation costs $175, and each follow-up appointment costs $75. LiveHealth Online states that a person’s insurance plan may cover part of these costs.

LiveHealth Online also has a free app that a client can use to access their account and make appointments. This app is available on iOS and Android.

Amwell

Amwell is a telemedicine company. People can access various types of medical care, such as urgent care, psychiatry, and nutritional counseling online. Amwell’s psychiatry services use board certified psychiatrists.

Amwell’s services are available nationwide. The psychiatrists who work with the company can help treat many conditions, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, OCD, and PTSD.

The company collaborates with a person’s primary care physician, so duplicates of prescriptions or tests are less likely, and all the treatment information is in one place.

An initial online consultation costs $279, and follow-up visits cost $109. A person’s insurance may partially or completely cover the costs of Amwell’s appointments.

Amwell also has a free app that people can use to make and manage appointments. This app is available on iOS and Android.

MDLIVE

MDLIVE medical professionals are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The company also has a free app that people can use on iOS or Android to make appointments and pay for services.

MDLIVE says that it carefully vets all of its board certified psychiatrists. A person can choose between a phone or video appointment. Psychiatrists can send prescriptions to a person’s nearest pharmacy if necessary.

An initial consultation costs $284, and follow-up appointments cost $108. A person’s health insurance may cover all or some of the costs of this service.

Doctor on Demand

Doctor on Demand’s psychiatrists are available at all times. People who use this service will have a video appointment with their psychiatrist.

Prospective clients will need to complete an initial mental health assessment. They can then browse the company’s psychiatrists and schedule a video consultation with a professional of their choice.

The psychiatrists can screen for mental health conditions and treat pre-diagnosed conditions. Doctor on Demand’s licensed psychiatrists can provide medications — with the exception of controlled substances, such as benzodiazepines and stimulants.

An initial consultation costs $299, and follow-up appointments cost $129. A person’s insurance plan may cover all or some of the costs.

Doctor on Demand also has a free app that people can use to book and take appointments. This app is available on iOS and Android.

Cerebral

Cerebral is a company that specializes in virtual appointments for mental health conditions.

This company operates a subscription service. Cerebral has separate medication and therapy plans, or a person can choose a plan that includes both medication and therapy. The prices vary among the plans.

Depending on the plan, a subscription can include regular video or phone appointments both with a prescribing provider and with a care counselor or licensed therapist. Some plans also include the delivery of prescription medication, at no extra cost, to the client’s home.

The company accepts Flexible Savings Account and Health Savings Account payments, as well as some major insurance plans. Some of Cerebral’s subscription plans are not available in certain states.

Cerebral also has an app that people can use to book and manage appointments. This app is available on iOS and Android.

Janelle B. Smith

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