7 Best Online Psychiatrist Platforms of 2023 Tried and Tested

We researched the leading online psychiatrist services to help you choose the best online psychiatrist for your needs. We found that the best online psychiatry options are Brightside, Zocdoc, Sesame Care, and 4 more mentioned in this guide.

This content is researched and written based on extensive testing by an external reviews team and does not reflect the views or opinions of Everyday Health’s editorial team. Everyday Health may earn a commission from purchases of products featured in this article.

Best Online Psychiatrist Services at a Glance

Online psychiatrist platforms offer a convenient way to find board-certified psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners (NPs) who can evaluate and treat mental illnesses from the comfort of your home, office, or other private space. We’ve researched the most popular online psychiatrist platforms, compared features, looked at pricing and session types, and listed the pros and cons, so you can decide which one is right for you.

Before we dive into our picks for the best online psychiatrists of 2023, it’s important to note that psychiatrists are sometimes mistaken for online therapists and psychologists, and vice versa. Although all three can treat mental health conditions, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines a psychiatrist as someone who earns a medical degree followed by a postgraduate residency with a focus on the biological aspects of mental illness. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication, while psychologists and therapists cannot, although there are a few states that allow psychologists to prescribe medication if they receive additional training, according to the APA.

Our Picks for Best Online Psychiatry Services

  • Most accessible online psychiatrist Talkspace
  • Best online psychiatrist service overall Brightside
  • Best online psychiatry platform with no insurance Sesame
  • Best online psychiatrist that takes insurance Zocdoc
  • Best online child psychiatrist for kids 10 and up MDLive
  • Best budget-friendly online psychiatry LiveHealth Online
  • Best online psychiatrist app Doctor on Demand

Compare the Best Online Psychiatry Platforms in 2023

Platform
Cost
Appointment Types
Availability
Providers
Learn More
Talkspace transparent logo
$299 for the initial consultation; $175 per follow-up session; $435 for an initial consultation with one follow-up; or $725 for an initial session with three follow-ups
Video
Depends on the provider
Licensed psychiatrists and nurse practitioners
Brightside transparent logo
$95 per month for psychiatry; $349 per month for therapy plus psychiatry
Video; unlimited messaging for psychiatry plus therapy plan
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs
Sesame logo transparent
Depends on the provider
Video
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants
ZocDoc Logo Transparent
Depends on the provider
Video
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants
MDLive transparent logo
$284 for the initial visit; $108 per follow-up visit
Video; telephone
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrists
Live Health online transparent logo
$175 for the initial evaluation; $75 per follow-up visit
Video
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrist
Doctor on demand transparent logo
$229 for the initial consultation; $129 per follow-up visit
Video
Depends on the provider, but most are available days, nights, and weekends
Board-certified psychiatrist

Why You Can Trust Our Best Online Psychiatrist Platforms Review

We independently investigate and recommend products and services we believe will enrich the lives of our readers and meet their specific needs. We’ve spent hundreds of hours carrying out in-depth research on the online therapy market. You can trust our review because we did the legwork for you in these specific ways:

  • Engaged in ongoing independent research
  • Spent over 250 hours testing eight brands, deployed surveys that included more than 200 participants each, and interviewed focus groups
  • Went behind the paywall for two months with eight brands to mystery shop our best online therapy choices
  • Contacted the brands’ customer service teams to ask questions and gauge responsiveness
  • Consulted six leading psychologists and psychiatrists
  • Became customers of online therapy providers ourselves
  • Reviewed academic research about the efficacy of online therapy versus in-person therapy
  • Read hundreds of verified customer reviews from trusted third parties such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot
Talkspace transparent logo

Most Accessible Online Psychiatrist

Talkspace

Our Rating
3.6

Talkspace provides individual therapy, couples therapy, and psychiatry. Unlike its online therapy plans, Talkspace psychiatry sessions don’t come with unlimited messaging between patient and provider. You can connect with your provider only through live video sessions.

Cost $299 for an initial consultation, $175 per follow-up session; $435 for an initial consultation with one follow-up; or $725 for an initial session and three follow-ups

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video

Qualifications Licensed psychiatrists and nurse practitioners

Our experience Our in-house tester found that with promo codes, Talkspace was cheaper to use without insurance than with insurance, so be sure to compare prices. They were matched with a mental health care provider in about 30 minutes and received an appointment booking confirmation within an hour. Overall, they reported that the scheduling process was easy and convenient, as was changing providers.

Pros

  • Easy and quick onboarding process
  • Licensed psychiatrists and nurse practitioners nationwide
  • Straightforward pricing and plans

Cons

  • More expensive than some other platforms
  • Some experts have concerns about privacy

With licensed psychiatrists and nurse practitioners in all 50 states and a mobile app, Talkspace tops our list for the most accessible online psychiatry platform. While it is more expensive than some other platforms, our tester was able to connect with a mental health care provider

Brightside transparent logo

Best Online Psychiatrist Service Overall

Brightside

Our Rating
4.1
Brightside offers personalized treatment for anxiety and depression with psychotherapy and medication. Evidence suggests that combining psychotherapy and medication for depression may be more effective than either treatment alone, according to the APA.

Cost $95 per month for psychiatry; $349 per month for therapy plus psychiatry

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video; unlimited messaging for psychiatry plus therapy plan

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs

Our experience When our reviews team tested Brightside virtual psychiatry, our tester found it easy to switch providers to find the right fit. They didn’t report any issues with the platform and liked the self-guided lessons for skill-building and reflection.

Pros

  • Optional psychiatry plus therapy plan for comprehensive treatment
  • Proprietary technology helps providers personalize prescriptions
  • Offers an app for iOS devices
  • Has 45-minute online therapy sessions and 30-minute virtual psychiatry sessions

Cons

  • Can be costly if you want psychiatry plus therapy
  • Doesn’t offer an app for Android devices

Brightside’s exclusive technology, PrecisionRx, analyzes a patient’s medical history and symptoms to help providers recommend a medication. Brightside coordinated an external analysis, published in January 2022 in the journal Cureus, which showed that the response rate of patients

Use Brightside promo code “EDH60” for $60 off your first month of cash plans.

EDH60
Sesame logo transparent

Best Online Psychiatry Platform for No Insurance

Sesame Care

Our Rating
2.7
Sesame offers online psychiatry services for those without insurance, including mental health consultations, telehealth psychiatry appointments, and prescription refills. Our reviews team was able to find a virtual prescription refill, or telefill, appointment with a popular and highly rated family nurse practitioner for $39.

Cost Varies by provider

Accepts insurance No

Session types Live video

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants

Our experience Our reviews team tester found it simple to book an appointment on Sesame with a few clicks. When they tried to reach customer service, however, they could do so only by submitting a contact form, as there were no agents available through the live chat.

Pros

  • Mental health consultations available starting at $42
  • Prescription refill appointments available starting at $39
  • Same-day appointments (depending on provider availability)

Cons

  • Appointment prices vary by location and provider
  • Not available in all states

You can search by the symptoms you’re experiencing or the service you’re looking for. Once you start your search, Sesame will display the top online psychiatrist options in your area, prioritized by same-day appointments and popular providers with positive reviews. If you’re looking

ZocDoc Logo Transparent

Best Online Psychiatrist That Takes Insurance

Zocdoc

Our Rating
3.4
For online psychiatry that takes insurance, Zocdoc may be a good option. You can narrow your search by more than 700 individual insurance plans, including popular providers like Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, and UnitedHealthcare. This can make it easier to find the best psychiatrist for your budget.

Cost Varies by provider

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants

Our experience We found that booking appointments with providers is straightforward and easy on Zocdoc. Most providers accept insurance, and it was easy to find available video sessions using the search tool.

Pros

  • Supports more than 700 individual insurance plans
  • Can scan your insurance card to find your exact insurance plan
  • Can help find in-network providers with your insurance to save you the most money
  • Can find next-day appointments

Cons

  • No guarantee of an in-network provider match
  • Some reviews mention double-booked appointment times or later appointment times than offered on the website

Zocdoc will show you the top-rated psychiatrist options available near you, prioritizing in-network providers with early availability that accepts your insurance. According to the Maryland Insurance Network, in-network providers have agreements with your insurance company to provide

MDLive transparent logo

Best Online Child Psychiatrist for Kids 10 and Up

MDLive

MDLive is a comprehensive telehealth platform that provides services for both medical and mental health care, including therapy and psychiatry online. MDLive psychiatrists can treat kids ages 10 and over, with parental consent.

Cost $284 for initial visit; $108 per follow-up visit

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video; telephone

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrists

Pros

  • Available for ages 10 and up
  • Pay-as-you-go plan — no contract or monthly plan required

Cons

  • No home delivery for prescriptions
  • No on-demand appointments available

MDLive may help parents provide their children with the help they need, considering that more than half of U.S. children with a treatable mental health disorder don’t receive treatment from a mental health professional, according to a study published in Pediatrics 

Live Health online transparent logo

Best Budget-Friendly Online Psychiatry

LiveHealth Online

LiveHealth Online’s psychiatry services are one of the most budget-friendly of the platforms we considered for best online psychiatrist. The cost is $175 for the initial evaluation and $75 per follow-up visit. If you have insurance, these rates can be even lower.

Cost $175 for the initial evaluation; $75 per follow-up visit

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrist

Pros

  • Lower fees than other online psychiatrists
  • Ability to search for psychiatrists who are available nights and weekends

Cons

  • No home delivery for prescriptions
  • No subscription plans

LiveHealth Online accepts most Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans. The cost for prescriptions depends on how much your pharmacy charges and whether you have an insurance copay. Some of the most common conditions and issues LiveHealth psychiatrists address are stress, depression,

Doctor on demand transparent logo

Best Online Psychiatrist App

Doctor on Demand

According to our survey responders, the most important factor when they chose a platform was positive reviews. Doctor on Demand has a user-friendly app that received the highest App Store and Google Play reviews among the best online psychiatrist platforms we picked, with 4.9 out of 5 stars from the App Store with nearly 107,500 reviews, and 4.8 out of 5 stars from Google Play with more than 67,000 reviews. You can also use a browser on your laptop or tablet to access its services. On BBB and Trustpilot, reviews of the platform weren't as favorable, with ratings of 1.17 and 1.4, respectively.

Cost $229 for the initial consultation; $129 per follow-up visit

Accepts insurance Yes

Session types Live video

Qualifications Board-certified psychiatrist

Pros

  • Highly rated by Apple and Google app store reviewers
  • May be able to see a psychiatrist on nights and weekends

Cons

  • One of the more costly online psychiatrist providers
  • No subscription plans

Doctor on Demand’s app is easy to use. After downloading it, you only need to enter your name, phone number, gender, and date of birth to start. It then uses your location to find board-certified psychiatrists licensed in your state. You can filter your results based on factors like

What Is Online Psychiatry?

Online psychiatry, also called telepsychiatry, is a form of online therapy that connects users virtually to psychiatric professionals who can prescribe medications and help manage mental health care. Online psychiatrists generally offer video therapy sessions, phone consultations, email messaging, and text messaging communication.

Online psychiatry is designed to offer patients convenience that increases their access to mental health care. Telepsychiatry services can be especially beneficial for patients who live in rural areas or areas that have high demand for psychiatric services but too few psychiatrists. People with mobility issues and people who are struggling with mental health symptoms like anxiety or depression may also benefit from online psychiatry.

A literature review published in the October 2020 Community Mental Health Journal examined the use of telepsychiatry in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) in 14 studies. According to the review, a majority of the studies examined found telepsychiatry to be equally effective or more effective than in-person treatment. The review also found that all the studies reported either no difference in patient satisfaction between telepsychiatry and in-person treatment or greater patient satisfaction with telepsychiatry.

Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist vs. Therapist: What’s the Difference?

Psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists are all mental health professionals, but they have varying degrees of education and offer different types of care in their practices. Psychiatrists are essentially mental health doctors. They have the most advanced degrees and can prescribe medication, whereas psychologists and therapists cannot.

Fortunately, you can find online treatment from any of these different types of mental health professionals through a variety of platforms. Below, we break down the differences between psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor or physician with several years of training as a psychiatric resident who can diagnose and treat complex psychiatric conditions with medication, according to the APA. Psychiatrists often do initial evaluations, diagnose conditions, and prescribe medications for mental health conditions, with follow-up appointments focusing on medication management.

Psychologist

A psychologist may have a PsyD (doctor of psychology) or a PhD (doctor of philosophy), but they are not a medical doctor and, therefore, cannot prescribe medication — unless they are licensed in Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, or New Mexico and have received additional training on how to prescribe medication, according to the APA. They can diagnose and treat mental health conditions, learning disabilities, and behavior disorders.

Therapist

A therapist is an individual who has been trained in and practices one or more types of therapy to treat mental or physical disorders or diseases. In the context of mental health, the term is often used synonymously with psychotherapist, according to the APA. This can include psychologists and social workers who use therapeutic techniques like psychotherapy or talk therapy to help people understand and resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, and relationship issues.

What Conditions Can an Online Psychiatrist Treat?

An online psychiatrist can diagnose and treat a wide variety of conditions, just as they can in person — from assessment and diagnosis to follow-up care, according to an article published in the World Journal of Psychiatry. This includes mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

There are times when online psychiatry may not be the best option. “Online psychiatry is great for managing chronic mental health conditions that are stable. But a person should not rely on online psychiatry during an emergency or if they are experiencing thoughts of harming themselves or others,” says Michael J. McGrath, MD, the medical director at the Ohana Retreat addiction treatment center in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. Dr. McGrath advises calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency room in these situations, rather than using online psychiatry. Other resources include the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357).

Can Online Psychiatrists Prescribe Medication?

Yes, online psychiatrists can prescribe medications for the treatment of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. These include many types of antidepressants like SSRIs and SNRIs, some anti-anxiety medications, and mood stabilizers, among others.

Psychiatrists who are licensed in your state can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe medications in person and online.

Keep in mind that some states have restrictions on online prescribing. Some states, for instance, may require an in-person evaluation before moving to telepsychiatry.

The practice of prescribing medicine is regulated by state medical boards. Contact your state medical board to better understand the online prescribing requirements and restrictions in your state.

Can Online Psychiatrists Prescribe Controlled Substances?

Online psychiatrists could prescribe controlled substances for the treatment of mental health conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic due to a public health emergency, per the Health Resources & Services Administration. But in February 2023, the DEA proposed new rules for prescribing via telemedicine that would end this allowance, requiring most patients to seek those prescriptions in person again. After receiving a record 38,000 comments in response to this proposal, the DEA Administrator decided to prolong the temporary extension on May 3, 2023, allowing prescriptions of controlled substances, like Adderall, to still be given online.

Regardless of ongoing changes in official guidelines, online psychiatry platforms repeatedly tell the same story: Their online psychiatrists cannot prescribe controlled substances such as narcotics, benzodiazepines like Xanax, Klonopin, or Ativan, or stimulants for ADHD, like Adderall or Ritalin. Although they can be an effective form of treatment, they're subject to increased regulation due to their potential for abuse and dependency. In fact, the telepsychiatry platform Cerebral was scrutinized for its controlled substance prescribing practices.

If you need controlled substances for mental health treatment, be sure to verify that the online psychiatrist you choose is able to prescribe them, or ask them what steps you need to take for that to be a possibility.

How Much Does an Online Psychiatrist Cost?

Online psychiatry services range in price from $75 to $300 per session. In general, the initial evaluation is more expensive and is a more comprehensive session than follow-ups. For example, MDLive charges $284 for the initial visit and $108 per follow-up visit. If your health insurance covers online psychiatry, this amount can sometimes go as low as $0.

Is Online Psychiatry Covered by Insurance?

Several telepsychiatry platforms accept health insurance, such as Brightside, Talkspace, and providers you can find through Zocdoc. Online psychiatry services publish a list of the carriers they work with on their websites.

Keep in mind that though some online psychiatrists accept insurance, your provider may not be in-network. Out-of-network providers are typically more expensive. Additionally, you may have a deductible or copay that could affect your total cost. Finally, insurance carriers can choose whether or not to cover your appointment based on medical necessity at the time of service. An article from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners explains that health insurance plans typically define “medically necessary services” as those involved in the diagnosis, treatment, or cure of health conditions, illnesses, diseases, or injuries, and that are considered part of the accepted standards of general medical care.

In other words, be sure to contact your health insurance provider before and after your first appointment to better understand your benefits and ensure your claims are submitted in a timely manner.

You may also be able to use your HSA or FSA account to pay for online psychiatry appointments. Check with your account provider to make sure.

Explore your options for online therapy that takes insurance to discover more platforms that accept insurance.

Is Online Psychiatry Covered by Medicare or Medicaid?

Some online psychiatry platforms accept select Medicare and Medicaid plans. Coverage can vary by platform, state, and provider. Even though platforms often list insurance providers on their websites, it’s worth contacting customer service to confirm coverage in your state. Our reviews team has encountered cases where existing Medicare and Medicaid coverage was not listed on a platform's website.

How to Choose an Online Psychiatrist

If you’ve decided to move forward with seeing an online psychiatrist, there are some important factors to consider when choosing the right platform and provider. For example, you’ll want to consider:

  • Cost of sessions and how it fits your budget
  • Whether you have a private area for sessions
  • Ability to change psychiatrists
  • Flexibility and accessibility for session times and days
  • Insurance benefits, if you’re using them
  • Online reviews, both positive and negative

Read our full guide to choosing an online therapy platform.

Benefits of Online Psychiatry vs. In-Person

One of the main benefits of online psychiatry is that it makes care accessible to people who live in areas that have a limited number of psychiatrists. This promotes equality of access and a sense of empowerment among patients, according to research published in the World Journal of Psychiatry.

Online psychiatry can offer a more laid-back and comfortable atmosphere for patients as well, according to Joshua Flatow, MD, a board-certified psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles. Some people would not benefit from online psychiatry, however, according to Dr. Flatow, including “people having deep delusions and paranoia, and experiencing intense fear."

What to Expect at Your First Online Psychiatrist Consultation

If you’re new to online psychiatry, you may have questions about what to expect at your first appointment. The good news is that most virtual platforms do a nice job of explaining the process and what to expect. The main focus during the first online psychiatric appointment among all platforms on our list is to cover health history and determine a plan for treatment.

According to University Hospitals, the psychiatrist may ask you about the following during your initial evaluation:

  • Any behaviors that are bothering you, when they occur, how long they last, and what triggers them
  • How these behaviors affect work, school, and relationships
  • Any physical and mental health symptoms you’re experiencing
  • Personal and family health history, including mental health

Once the health history and mental health evaluation are complete, the psychiatrist or psychiatric NP will discuss a treatment plan with you that may include medication, therapy, and a follow-up plan. As in an in-person visit, if you make a mutual decision with the psychiatrist about medications, they can send a prescription electronically to the pharmacy of your choice or directly to your home, depending on the platform.

Important Factors to Consider When Choosing an Online Psychiatrist

If you’ve decided to move forward with seeing an online psychiatrist, there are some important factors to consider when choosing the right platform and provider. For example, you’ll want to consider:

  • Cost of sessions and how it fits your budget
  • Whether you have a private area for sessions
  • Ability to change psychiatrists
  • Flexibility and accessibility for session times and days
  • Insurance benefits, if you’re using them
  • Online reviews, both positive and negative

How We Chose Our Best Online Psychiatrist Platforms

Our reviews team determined our top picks for the best online psychiatrist platform options based on the following criteria:

  • Cost We chose companies that provide a range of costs, with a preference for companies that offer at least one budget-friendly plan.
  • Customer service Exemplary customer service is crucial with a virtual service like online psychiatry. We contacted each company on this list via phone or email to verify their responsiveness and helpfulness. We paid close attention to whether customer service teams answered promptly, shared their name, and worked to resolve our issue.
  • Customer satisfaction We recorded each company’s score on BBB and Trustpilot and read countless reviews to get a sense of overall customer satisfaction. We paid close attention to whether companies responded to complaints and negative reviews, how long it took them to respond, and whether customers found the resolution satisfactory.
  • Types of therapy We researched the types of therapy offered and favored companies with multiple types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychoanalysis, for the user to choose from.
  • Therapist credentials We verified the credentials of each company’s mental health professionals. We prioritized companies with diverse therapy teams (such as psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed marriage and family therapists, licensed clinical social workers, licensed professional therapists, and licensed mental health counselors) and with therapists who have particular expertise in their field (such as couples counselors or counselors trained in CBT).
  • Years in operation We examined companies that have been in operation for a long period of time as well as newer companies.
  • System usability and access Online psychiatry websites should be accessible and intuitive. We examined each telepsychiatry site for accessibility accommodations and ease of use.
  • Ease of registration Companies should have an easy registration process that puts as much control into the user’s hands as possible. That includes a streamlined registration process with, ideally, control over who your psychiatrist is and when you can meet with them.
  • Insurance We verified psychiatry telehealth companies’ insurance benefits and shared which plans they accept at the time of writing this article. We also researched which services are cost-effective without insurance.

How We Research and Evaluate Online Psychiatrists

Our reviews team extensively scrutinizes online psychiatrist platforms to make sure we only recommend those we believe will make a difference to our readers. Together, we’ve researched prominent brands by mystery shopping the platforms, understanding the experiences of real customers, and consulting with independent mental health professionals to better understand why people seek out online therapy. Our method includes going past the paywall to test online psychiatrist platforms for ourselves, conducting in-depth interviews with focus groups, and deploying surveys to gain real customer insights.

We used our collected data to develop a scorecard to evaluate the platforms we tested ourselves. Read more about how we researched and tested online therapy and psychiatry platforms in our online therapy review methodology.

The Bottom Line

An online psychiatrist can be a convenient and effective way to access mental health treatment and medication management. There are several telehealth and online mental health platforms but not all have psychiatrists, so check the fine print before signing up if you need medication management. All the platforms included in this roundup allow you to request a provider who can prescribe psychiatric medications (a psychiatrist or psychiatric NP), which is noted in each section.

When comparing providers, Brightside can be helpful for people new to therapy and psychiatry. For psychiatry telehealth appointments with insurance, consider an option like Zocdoc, while those without insurance should consider Sesame. Talkspace is our pick for accessible online psychiatry, thanks to the platform’s simple onboarding process and quick matching process with a network of providers in all 50 states. If you are seeking psychiatric care for a minor, MDLive is our top pick for adolescents, since the platform's board-certified psychiatrists treat individuals ages 10 and up, with parental permission. LiveHealth Online may be a good option for online psychiatry if cost is a priority. According to our survey of online therapy platforms, cost was the most important factor to 39.5 percent of respondents when choosing a platform. If the convenience of a highly rated app is important to you, Doctor on Demand is our pick.

In Emergency Situations

If you are in crisis, waiting for an online therapy appointment may not be safe. In case of an emergency, call 911. That includes plans to harm yourself or others. If you’re having suicidal thoughts, you can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Help is available 24/7. You can also send a text message to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. A crisis counselor will respond via text to help you stay calm and make sure you’re safe.

You can also reach out to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357). The SAMHSA helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-days-a-year treatment referral and information service for individuals facing mental or substance abuse disorders.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist, and a social worker?

Psychiatrists have a medical degree followed by a postgraduate residency with a focus on the biological aspects of mental illness. Since they have a medical degree, they can prescribe medication. In contrast, psychologists have a graduate degree in psychology with a focus on human behavior, according to the APA. Social workers attend graduate school in social work and must have either a master’s in social work or a licensed clinical social worker degree to provide therapy. All these professionals must have a license granted by their profession in each state they practice in.

Is online psychiatry as effective as in-person psychiatry?

Whether online psychiatry is as effective as in-person psychiatry depends on several variables such as the mental health condition being treated, the psychiatrist and client relationship, and the number of sessions and treatment frequency. There are limited studies comparing telepsychiatry to in-person treatment, making it difficult to determine whether the two methods are equally successful in treating mental health conditions, according to a review published in September 2020 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. That said, the APA points to research showing that telepsychiatry and online therapy can be effective and increase access to care. Another review found that telepsychiatry is effective across multiple age groups and clinical settings.

Do I need a referral for an online psychiatrist?

None of the platforms on our list require a referral. If you’re using health insurance to help pay for psychiatry sessions or medication, check your insurance plan first to see whether they require a referral.

Are online psychiatrists legit?

Online psychiatrists are as legitimate and effective as in-person psychiatrists. Online psychiatrists are licensed by a state medical board, can diagnose a wide range of mental health conditions, and prescribe medication accordingly.

Can I see a psychiatrist online?

Yes, you can see a psychiatrist online. Telepsychiatry services like Brightside, Zocdoc, and Sesame Care offer online psychiatry services in much the same way an in-person psychiatrist does. Psychiatry services can include assessments, diagnoses, treatment planning, and medication management.

Do psychiatrists do therapy?

Yes, psychiatrists can provide therapy as well as medication management, per the APA. Depending on the individual psychiatrist and platform you use, your provider may offer both therapy and medication management or only an initial consultation and follow-up appointments for medication management. If you want to work with a therapist and a psychiatrist, some online psychiatry platforms make this easier than others. For example, Brightside offers a medication plus therapy plan which connects you with a psychiatrist and therapist.

Can a therapist prescribe medication?

No, therapists cannot prescribe medication, because they do not have a medical degree or the necessary training to prescribe medication. Only licensed professionals, such as psychiatrists or medical doctors, can prescribe medication.

How do you get medication for mental health online?

You can connect with online psychiatrists who prescribe medications through telepsychiatry services like Brightside, Talkspace, and Sesame Care. You’ll meet virtually with a psychiatrist in an initial consultation. From there, your psychiatrist will assess your treatment plan needs, which may include medication for mental health conditions. Note that state laws vary. Your state medical board regulates prescription rules in your state, so contact your board for details.

Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking

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