by Kenneth Medford III
As the great American poet Joe Budden said, “Are you in that mood, yet?” Between Covid evolving faster than a Pokémon, the shipping delays, microchip shortage, the holiday season (which is notoriously the most depressing time of the year) and, let’s be honest, just generally being an adult these days many of us are going through levels of mental stress we may not be prepared to deal with on our own and could use a little back-up.
For those of you, like myself, that may want or need professional help coping with the stress, anxiety, depression etc of life, I offer this list of professional mental health resources available online.
This is an excellent resource for those, like myself, that don’t have insurance. After signing up for a FREE account, you’re immediately presented with an array of options. You can go through a collection of therapists (the ones you talk to), psychologists (the ones that can diagnose mental health conditions), and/or psychiatrists (the ones that can prescribe medication) in a dating site style set up. After reading a short bio, seeing their stats (i.e. education, years of experience, etc) and their price, you can book a session and you’re all set.
Price Breakdown of LiveHealth Online
Speaking of prices, without insurance, you can see a therapist for $80, a psychologist for $95, or a psychiatrist initially for $175 (for evaluation purposes) then $75 for subsequent sessions. If you do have insurance, there’s a chance that you can cut these prices down even further. It’s definitely worth a check.
Once everything is set and it’s time for your appointment, you’ll video chat through the site with your counselor. Having a solid internet connection is key here. If you’re not sure have one, once you get to the log-in/sign up screen, there is an option to test your computer to make sure you’ll have a smooth time during your session. For those who happen to be on the go or maybe even getting in a session on your lunch break in the car, you can also use their app for sessions wherever you like.
From my personal experience, it was pretty nice. The process of setting up everything was super easy, barely an inconvenience and my therapist was really cool. The rating system is really helpful when deciding who you want to work with. They also let you know what state they’re in in case you feel like your issues might be better understood by someone that’s from where you’re from.
For more questions about Live Health Online, check out any of the links below to their FAQ pages.
Unlike LiveHealth Online, BetterHelp does specifically therapy, however they cover slightly more varied options. Along with psychologists and traditional therapists, they have certified, licensed marriage and family therapists and clinical social workers. Their vetting process gives the over 2.3 million people who have received therapy through them great reassurance. Everyone on the platform that provides therapy must have at least 3 years and a minimum of 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. Unfortunately, as awesome as their therapists may be, you don’t get to choose one. Instead, after basically doing a welcome survey, they match you with a therapist based on the goals, preferences, and particular issues you provided in the survey. You do, of course, get veto power, but you don’t get to browse as you please.
Cost Breakdown of BetterHelp
Another major question I hear cranking in your mind is, “What does it cost?” Per their FAQ, “The cost of therapy through BetterHelp ranges from $60 to $90 per week (billed every 4 weeks) and it is based on your location, preferences, and therapist availability.” I tried as best as I could to confirm whether or not insurance would cover their services like Live Health, but the only clarification I could find was via their blog:
“BetterHelp is an option to consider for those who think they can’t afford therapy. Prices are billed at affordable out-of-pocket rates, so it is cheaper for people who do not have insurance, or for people who have insurance but also have a high deductible. BetterHelp counselors can receive access to your permanent medical record, allowing them to treat mental health and substance use disorders.”
It would be best to ask your insurance provider whether or not this type of online care would be covered before making any moves.
Connecting in Different Ways on BetterHelp
With all that, I have to say, a nice cherry on top is having so many options to connect with your therapist. Whether it’s a video call, phone call, or text, whichever approach works best for you, you can use it to stay in contact and get the help you need. For privacy, they provide a private “room” via their site that will act as the meeting place regardless of your choice in communication. Once you connect, you’re good to go.
It should also be noted that BetterHelp has had a couple brushes with controversy over the years. In 2018, there were outcries of unlicensed counselors and misleading advertising from YouTubers. The unlicensed counselors can be quite easily disproved by going through their ‘find a therapist’ list and misleading advertising. . .well, it wouldn’t be a first for YouTube. More recently, they have been tied to the Travis Scott concert tragedy where 8 concert goers lost their lives. Scott’s foundation, the Cactus Jack Foundation, partnered with BetterHelp to provide a free month of therapy to those affected which has generally been seen as below the bare minimum and a chance for the company to profit from tragedy.
This is in no way an attempt to slam the company. After all, there have been many who have been helped by their services in ways that would never be possible without the technology they employ, but I would be remiss if I did not include so you can make the best possible decision for you.
Click the link to check out their FAQ page.
Often discussed as BetterHelp’s direct competition, Talkspace features many of the same talking points of their cross-internet rival. You sign up, do a welcome survey type deal and they give you a selection of three care providers to choose from based on your responses. Some of the biggest differences come from the fact that Talkspace features psychiatry for those that may need medication for their issues. They also offer testing for generalized anxiety and depression. The latter is used as a baseline for seeing a medical professional as depression should not be self-diagnosed, and a slightly more varied way to select your care provider.
The psychiatrist you will be matched with will be licensed in your state. This is important because they will be able to prescribe medication. This all but eliminates the barrier to care lack of access to mental health care in your area. Whether it is a new diagnosis or having to refill a previously prescribed medication, you can handle that with your psychiatrist and make sure you’re taken care of.
The assessments that you can take for generalized anxiety and depression are free and can really help you get the ball rolling on your initial session. Again, these are not a replacement for seeing a professional. They can, however, help you understand more about yourself, how you deal with things, and give you helpful insight to provide to your counselor once you get matched.
Unfortunately, Talkspace has one more similarity with Better Health: controversy. However, this isn’t their issue alone. A major pain point in this digital age of healthcare is finding ways to maintain privacy in a world that is quickly running out of ways to do so. Specifically in Talkspace’s case, they had former employees claim the company used transcripts between clients and care providers to improve their marketing. Again, this is not an issue that only they are dealing with. Data issues can be seen with Better Health in this Jezebel article as well. (Though I found some unflattering reviews for LiveHealth Online, I did not come across any major issues in relation to their platform.)
Like the other platforms listed above, Cerebral offers medication and therapy services. You sign up with an initial survey, hop on a video/phone call with a prescriber and meet with a care counselor. Every month your medication is mailed, and you’ll chat with your Care Counselor.
Pros of Cerebral:
- There are multiple plans available based on your needs from therapy alone or combined treatments with medication management + therapy.
- FSA/HSA eligible
- Also has self pay rates.
Cons of Cerebral
- Not available in all states
- Not suitable for all circumstances including substance abuse, suicidal idea, or severe psychological issues
- Unable to prescribe controlled substances
Having options is good
As usual, the difficult choice is left in our hands. I have personally done online therapy. Ultimately, I found it supremely helpful and convenient, but I also have a Google home assistant and just assume the man in the machine already knows everything about me. Our mental health is important. As we’ve discussed many times before, your emotions and frame of mind strongly influence how you spend and manage your money. More than that, it affects your body, your relationships, I mean. . .really everything is tied to that chunk of gray matter in our skulls. Whatever path you take, I hope that this helped even a little and I hope that you find your peace. Peace people!
Managing Money and Mental Wellness
Writer, rhymer, gamer: the easiest way to define the man known as Kenneth Medford. I’m a simple man who loves to learn and loves to help and I wander the digital world trying to find ways to sate my hunger for both. Basically, I’m Galactus but helpful.
Check out my other work here or reach out to me on LinkedIn.