This article will aim to review three important mental health care platforms, BetterHelp, Talkspace and Cerebral. While BetterHelp offers only online therapy, Talkspace and Cerebral offer therapy in addition to medications as well. These three platforms have risen to worldwide importance after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The following table will show you the main features offered in BetterHelp, Talkspace and Cerebral. Additionally, it will also depict the major differences between these three platforms.
|Types of services||Therapy||Therapy and Psychiatry||Therapy and Psychiatry|
|Pricing||Min 240 USD||Min 260 USD||Min 85 USD|
|Payment options||All major credit cards, Paypal,HSA, FSA||All major credit or debit cards, HSA, FSA||All major credit or debit cards, HSA, FSA|
|Age group||13 years and above||13 years and above||18 years and above|
- BetterHelp offers couples therapy and teens therapy
- Group sessions are also available
- It offers financial assistance
- Insurance coverage is not possible
- It does not have psychiatry services
- Therapists cannot diagnose mental health conditions
- Talkspace offers therapy as well as psychiatry services
- It allows insurance coverage
- It offers couples therapy and teens therapy
- It does not have live sessions in all the plans
- Unlimited messaging is not available in all plans
- Without insurance, it can be expensive
- Cerebral offers therapy and medications
- Providers can assign letters and documents
- Insurance coverage is available
- It does not offer couples therapy or teens therapy
- Some medications are not available in all the states
- It does not offer group sessions
BetterHelp was launched in 2013 by Alon Matas and Danny Bragonier as an online therapy platform that anybody can easily access and use from anywhere. In BetterHelp, users can find therapy delivered through a variety of formats. BetterHelp also offers messaging therapy in different modes.
Picture credit: BetterHelp
Users in BetterHelp can have their therapy sessions delivered through live audio, live video and even live chat formats. Unlimited messaging is also available for all the users and can be conducted in text messaging, audio messaging and even video messaging. The therapists respond to these messages a couple of times a day throughout the week.
BetterHelp is very cost-effective and also provides financial assistance for those who are unemployed, disabled or have veteran status. This financial assistance needs to be renewed every three months. In addition to therapy for individuals, BetterHelp also offers group therapy sessions, couples therapy and even has therapy for teenagers.
Talkspace was launched in 2012 by Roni and Oren Frank after the couple faced many challenges when they had relationship problems of their own. Talkspace was originally a couples therapy platform through which partners in relationships can meet therapists in a digital space without any fear of judgment.
Picture credit: Talkspace
Now, Talkspace offers a number of therapy resources and advantages, such as live audio sessions, live video sessions and even live chats. It also has messaging therapy through which the user can send any number of messages to their therapists at any time. The messages can also be sent as texts, audio messages or video messages depending on the convenience of the user.
Talkspace does not only offer couples therapy, but also has therapy for individuals and teens. For the latter, the user needs to upload parental consent. Medications are also made available through Talkspace. All of its services can be easily covered by insurance as the platform has several in-network providers.
Cerebral was launched in early 2020 by Kyle Robertson as a result of his own difficulties that he faced while trying to get mental health care for himself. Cerebral, or Get Cerebral, allows users to quickly consult with a mental health professional for therapy as well as medications or drugs. Since its founding, Cerebral has catered to more than 100, 000 patients.
Picture credit: Cerebral
Through Cerebral, users can get therapy from licensed and certified therapists. They can also access psychiatrists for the prescription of medications. These medications are sent to the local pharmacy near the user or directly to the home of the patient in very discrete packaging. The refills are also sent automatically.
The unique selling point of Cerebral is the care counseling, through which a collaborative care model of mental health care is established. Through this, the progress of the user is continually tracked and treatment is adjusted appropriately. Cerebral is pretty affordable and also allows insurance coverage through a tie-up with a number of in-network providers.
Best features of BetterHelp
BetterHelp is definitely one of the most popular online therapy platforms available today. It caters to the mental health needs and requirements of nearly two million users. The best features of this online therapy platform have been explored in the points below.
BetterHelp offers unlimited messaging
The primary mode of communication between the user and the therapist in BetterHelp is through the unlimited messaging. In this feature, the user can send any number of messages to their therapists at any given time. The messages can also be sent as text messages, audio messages and even video messages to which the therapist responds once or twice a day, five days a week.
It has live therapy in various formats
The therapy sessions in BetterHelp are offered through several formats. The formats that are available for the therapy sessions in this platform are live audio sessions, live video sessions and even live chats. These have the duration of thirty minutes but can be easily extended up to an hour depending on the needs of the user and the availability of the therapist.
It has financial aid
While BetterHelp is much more affordable when compared to traditional mental health care settings, the platform offers financial assistance or aid that increases its cost-effectiveness. This financial assistance can reduce the cost of therapy in BetterHelp by up to 25 percent. The financial aid is for those who have low income jobs, are disabled or have veteran status.
It offers couples therapy
Couples therapy is another feature that is offered in BetterHelp. This service is conducted by the sister website of BetterHelp, ReGain. Couples therapy that is conducted through BetterHelp is done through group chats and even live video or audio sessions. Couples therapy is indicated for any pair who wants to improve their patterns of communication with each other.
Picture credit: BetterHelp
It has therapy for teenagers
Teenagers can also seek therapy in BetterHelp. This feature is reserved for those from the ages of 13 years to 17 years. Adolescents who want to seek therapy through BetterHelp need to provide consent from their parents or guardians before they can proceed. Therapy is indicated for those teenagers who are from broken homes, have been abused or have witnessed trauma.
BetterHelp has group sessions
In addition to therapy for individuals, BetterHelp also offers group sessions. These group sessions are conducted through webinars, also called ‘groupinars’ in BetterHelp. These are conducted once every week and cover a range of topics related to mental health and mental illness. Users can participate anonymously and even post questions in these group sessions.
It offers many therapy resources
BetterHelp offers plenty of tools and features that can improve the process of therapy itself. Users can find online journaling features in this platform, through which they can write down their thoughts and feelings at any time of the day. There are also many other features like digital worksheets and templates that can be useful for the clients.
Best features of Talkspace
Talkspace is a very simple to use platform that offers a large variety of features that users can find advantageous. Some of the best features of this platform have been explained in the points below.
Talkspace brings a great client-therapist fit
The rapport between the user and the therapist is very important for the effectiveness of any type of therapy. Talkspace ensures this by using an algorithm to match the user with a compatible therapist. The algorithm in Talkspace uses the data provided by the user at the time of signing up to match their therapist preferences.
It has therapy as well as psychiatry
In addition to the therapy services, psychiatry services are also available in Talkspace. This is great for those who suffer from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression that can benefit from medications or drugs. However, controlled substances like Xanax and Ritalin cannot be prescribed in Talkspace.
It offers insurance coverage
While Talkspace is certainly affordable, it also allows insurance coverage. The insurance coverage in Talkspace is made available through a tie-up with a large number of providers such as Cigna, Optum, Humana and even Blue Cross Blue Shield. The insurance coverage is available for the therapy as well as the psychiatry services of Talkspace.
Messaging therapy is available
In some of the plans that Talkspace offers, messaging therapy is also available in addition to live sessions. Through this feature, the user can send any number of messages to their therapists at any time. The therapist will respond to these messages once or twice a day for five days in the week.
It offer live sessions in various formats
The live sessions in Talkspace are offered through a number of formats such as live audio sessions and live video sessions. Users can also opt to have their therapy through live chats. The therapy sessions in Talkspace are for a period of 45 minutes and users can even add extra live sessions if they wish to.
It has couples therapy
Couples therapy is another feature that is offered in Talkspace. The couples therapy here allows both the partners to communicate with the therapist through a group chat feature. In addition to this, the partners can also have live therapy sessions in the formats of audio or video depending on their conveniences.
It offers therapy for teenagers
Talkspace also offers therapy for teenagers between the ages of 13 years to 17 years. To avail this therapy, the user needs to upload a video of their parent or guardian providing consent. Therapy for teenagers is important as adolescents today face a large number of stressors in the form of school, peer pressure, romantic relationships and even familial bonds.
Picture credit: Talkspace
Talkspace gives access to Happify
Talkspace also offers its users access to Happify. Through Happify, the user can learn many mental health exercises and skills which can create permanent healthy habits in their lives. Users can also use this space to apply and train themselves in coping strategies and behavioral techniques that they might have learnt in their therapy sessions.
It offers a sleep program
Talkspace also offers a sleep program for those who are suffering from insomnia for the period of eight weeks. In this span of time, the participants learn various coping strategies and sleep hygiene that they can use in order to get better rest. This program can be great for those who struggle to fall asleep or those who wake up often during the sleep period.
Best features of Cerebral
Cerebral might be new in the market, but still has been stocked up with a variety of advantageous features, such as the ones listed below.
Cerebral offers therapy and medications
In Cerebral, the user can find therapy as well as medications in the same space. These services are offered as they are or in a combo plan consisting of access to a therapist as well as a psychiatrist. The medications are also delivered to the home of the user directly, thus saving them from trips to the pharmacy.
It offers care counseling
Along with a therapist or a prescriber or both, the user has continual access to a care counselor. The care counselor is a mental health professional who may or may not be a licensed therapist. These care counselors are the straws that stir the drink in Cerebral and train the users in various coping strategies and behavioral techniques that can contribute to their progress.
Picture credit: Cerebral
It has a progress tracking feature
Users can easily visualize their progress in Cerebral through the progress tracking feature. The data for this feature is gathered by the care counselors using various psychological tools on a regular basis. This information is shared with the user and the other members of the care team who make necessary tweaks to bring the best for the user.
Providers can produce letters and documents
Providers in BetterHelp can also provide letters and documents for anything related to mental health. Users can avail disability certificates, work leave letters and also get letters for emotional support animals or ESAs. Through ESAs like dogs, cats and many other pets, many users have found relief from their anxiety and other stressors.
Insurance coverage is easily possible
While Cerebral is definitely cost-effective, it is even more affordable considering the fact that it offers extensive insurance coverage. The platform has tied up with a large number of in-network providers like Cigna and Aetna, through which the user might have to pay as little as $0 for their mental health care.
It has a variety of treatment modes
Cerebral offers a large variety of treatments, especially medication wise. In Cerebral, the user can find many types of medications like non-stimulants, SSRIs and SNRIs. However, medications for conditions like ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and PTSD are available only in certain states of the US.
Pricing of BetterHelp
The therapy in BetterHelp can be availed for a price of $60 to $90 per week, which is billed every four weeks. Those who are opting for longer subscriptions may have to pay much less. The cost of therapy in this platform can vary depending on the location of the user and the availability of the therapists in their area.
Pricing of Talkspace
The pricing in Talkspace mainly depends on the type of plan that the user is opting for. The various plans in Talkspace, along with their features have been described in the points below.
Messaging Therapy plan
In this plan, the user has access to unlimited messaging with their therapist. This plan comes at a cost of $69 per week. The user can send messages in the form of texts, audio messages and even video messages. The therapist responds once or twice a day to the messages of the user, for five days in a week.
Live Therapy plan
The Live Therapy plan in Talkspace is for a price of $99 per week. In this plan, the user has access to four live sessions in the month. The live sessions are for the duration of forty-five minutes each. Talkspace allows mainly three different formats of live sessions, which are live audio sessions, live video sessions and even live chat sessions.
Live + Messaging Therapy plan
The Live + Messaging Therapy plan in Talkspace is for a price of $129 per week. This plan is the most popular one with very versatile features. In this plan, the user has access to unlimited messaging with their therapist. They can also have four live sessions every month for the duration of 45 minutes and can even add extra live sessions for the price of $65 each.
Pricing of Cerebral
The costs of mental health care in Cerebral vary depending on the type of plan that the user has opted for. The various plans that are available in Cerebral and also the features present in each of these have been explained below.
The Medications + Care Counseling plan
The Medications + Care Counseling plan in Cerebral costs the user $85 per month. Cerebral offers this plan to new users at a discounted rate of $30 for the first month. Through this plan, the user can avail medications and drugs for their mental health issues. The medications will be delivered directly to the home of the user in discreet packaging.
The Coaching plan
The Coaching only plan of Cerebral costs $145 per month and new users can enjoy this at a discounted rate of $59 for the first month. In this plan, the user will have sessions conducted once a week with a behavioral coach. The user can choose to have these sessions through phone calls or even a video session.
The Medication + Coaching plan
The Medication + Coaching plan in Cerebral costs the user $195 per month. New users of Cerebral can get this plan at a rate of $79 for the first month. In this plan, the user will get weekly sessions with a behavioral health coach. They will also be prescribed medications by their psychiatrist. Care counseling is also available in this plan, just like every other plan.
Signing up for BetterHelp
To sign up for the therapy services in BetterHelp, the user will need to go to the website or the app and complete the brief questionnaire provided. The assessment will not only gather details about the mental health issues of the user but also their therapist preferences. Once the matching process is complete, the user can expect to start their therapy sessions in a couple of days.
Signing up for Talkspace
To access the mental health care services in Talkspace, the user can go to the website or download and install the app and give their basic details. They will then fill out a questionnaire about their emotional issues and also state their therapist preferences. The next step is a consultation with a therapist who will brief them about the various features of the platform.
Once the therapist has briefed them about the features of the platform, the user will be matched with a suitable provider. When the matching process is complete, the user will be intimated by email after which they can expect to start therapy in a matter of a few days.
Signing up for Cerebral
Those who want to avail mental health care through Cerebral can go to the website or the app and take the short mental health assessment provided. Once this is completed, the user will then consult with a provider who will perform a formal evaluation. The provider will also guide them in the matching process. The treatment can start in a couple of days after this step.
Tips for using BetterHelp
BetterHelp offers a plethora of features and attributes that can make the therapy process easy. Some tips to help users of BetterHelp have been explained in the points below.
- BetterHelp allows various formats of live therapy sessions, such as live audio sessions, live video sessions and even live chats. Explore these formats at your leisure and find what suits your preferences and conveniences.
- To make sure you are not interrupted during your live therapy sessions, make sure your devices are working in top order before you start your session. You can also invest in a high-speed internet connection that can greatly improve the effectiveness of your live video sessions.
- BetterHelp has an online journaling feature that regularly prompts you to write in it. If you do not like the digital aspect of this, you can always write in a physical journal when you are prompted by the platform.
- The groupinars in BetterHelp are also a very useful feature. The best part about this is that you can participate in it live, or even watch the recorded version later within a span of 7 days.
Tips for using Talkspace
Talkspace also offers plenty of features for anyone who is seeking mental health care. Some suggestions to help users, especially those who are new to the platform have been explored in the section below.
- Talkspace offers unlimited messaging in two of its plans. This messaging can be used not only for communication but also for a variety of purposes, such as healthy venting and expression. Furthermore, some users also opt to write down messages as reminders for therapy talking points.
- If you are a user of Talkspace, you will automatically have access to Happify. Through Happify, you can learn many coping strategies and mental exercises that you can use in your daily life.
- To make the best out of your live therapy sessions, dedicate a space in your home especially for these. This will make sure that you are not disturbed while at therapy while also helping in preparing your mindset for intervention.
Tips for using Cerebral
Cerebral is a very user-friendly platform and is pretty simple to explore. Some tips or suggestions for users of Cerebral have been described as follows.
- Cerebral has a very resourceful blog which is religiously updated with articles and blogs related to mental health and mental illness.
- The prescribers in Cerebral can be asked for letters or certificates for disabilities and work leaves. You can also ask your prescriber for ESA letters for emotional support animals which can greatly help in your anxiety levels.
- The care counselor in Cerebral can be approached for various coping strategies and behavioral techniques. They will train you in a number of strategies that can help in your mental health.
Personal experiences in BetterHelp
BetterHelp users have had mostly positive experiences on the platform. In Apple Apps, BetterHelp has a rating of 4.8 stars while in Google Play store it has a rating of 4.7 stars. Some of the experiences that users have had in this platform have been described below.
- Most users have felt that their mental health has greatly improved after attending therapy sessions in BetterHelp. The therapists in the platform are known to be understanding and empathetic towards the users.
- Those users who have attended the ‘groupinars’ in BetterHelp, have felt that these are very informative and beneficial for anyone who wants to understand more about the mind and mental illnesses.
- Some users have complained that the pricing in BetterHelp is not transparent and thus the platform can seem coercing as it only reveals the actual costs towards the end of the sign-up process. The cost of therapy in BetterHelp varies from region to region and thus different users can have different prices.
Personal experiences in Talkspace
Talkspace is pretty popular among those who are seeking mental health care, especially since it offers therapy as well as psychiatry services. The Talkspace app has a rating of 4.7 stars in Apple apps and a rating of 4 stars in the Google Play store. The various experiences of Talkspace users have been summed up in the points below.
- Talkspace users have loved the variety of formats that the platform offers, such as live audio, live video and even live chats. Users have felt that they can enjoy immense convenience and comfort through these features of Talkspace.
- Some users have felt that the unlimited messaging feature that Talkspace offers is way too impersonal and does not contribute positively to their mental health.
- Those who have taken part in the couples therapy feature of Talkspace have felt that the therapists here are non-judgmental and allow both partners to open up at their own pace.
Personal experiences in Cerebral
The Cerebral app has a rating of 4.7 stars in Apple apps and a rating of 4.3 stars in the Google Play store. Some of the experiences that users have had in this platform have been described in the points below.
- Most users have left brimming reviews about the psychiatry services in Cerebral. The providers here are very knowledgeable and empathetic and many patients have also had their dosages reduced considerably here.
- Some users have complained about the customer support in Cerebral. A few have also left negative reviews about the app itself which often hangs and has many technological errors.
- A large percentage of users in Cerebral have felt that the platform is very simple and easy to use. Users have also been able to quickly access a mental health professional after signing up for the platform.
BetterHelp, Talkspace and Cerebral are definitely splendid platforms for anyone who is seeking mental health care online. While they share much of common ground, these platforms also differ in certain services and features. BetterHelp can be great for anyone who is seeking therapy online, while Talkspace and Cerebral offer medications as well.
In BetterHelp, users can expect therapy through a variety of formats such as live audio sessions, live video sessions and even live chats. Users can also communicate with their therapists through unlimited messaging available in different modes like text messaging, audio messaging and even video messaging in addition to several other features like groupinars and couples therapy.
Talkspace is a fantastic option for anyone who wants therapy and psychiatry services in the same space. However, both these options are not available as a combo package and need to be used separately. Talkspace offers therapy through live audio, live video and live chat formats. Some plans also have unlimited messaging.
Cerebral can be great for those who need therapy as well as medications in the same package. There are a number of plans offering only medications, only therapy and both these services together. Furthermore, care counseling is also available as Cerebral follows a collaborative care model to deliver its mental health care services.
Frequently asked questions:
How long are video sessions on BetterHelp?
The video sessions in BetterHelp have a time limit of thirty minutes. However, this can be easily extended up to an hour depending on the availability of the therapist and the needs of the user. In BetterHelp, the user has access to two live sessions in a month, and these can be availed in the form of live audio, live video and live chat sessions.
How long does it take to get a therapist with BetterHelp?
According to the platform, it takes about 24 hours to be matched with a therapist in BetterHelp.
Does BetterHelp diagnose?
No, BetterHelp therapists cannot diagnose. They can only provide therapy using techniques like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive strategies, Behavioral Therapy and REBT and many more, to help their clients combat the symptoms of their mental health conditions.
How long are Talkspace therapy sessions?
The therapy sessions in Talkspace are for the duration of 45 minutes. However, this can be extended up to an hour. Users can also have additional live therapy sessions at an extra cost.
Can Talkspace prescribe antidepressants?
Yes, Talkspace psychiatrists can prescribe antidepressants. In addition to these, a wide variety of psychotropic medications can be availed here. However, controlled substances like Ritalin and Xanax cannot be prescribed through Talkspace.
Can you text on Talkspace?
Yes, you can text your therapist at any time on Talkspace. You can send any number of messages to your therapist through formats like text messages, audio messages and even video messages to which they will respond a couple of times a day, for five days in the week. However, this feature is not available in all the plans of Talkspace.
Does Cerebral take Tricare?
Yes, Cerebral takes Tricare in addition to a number of in-network providers such as Aetna, Cigna, Optum and Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Does Cerebral treat ADHD?
Yes, Cerebral can treat ADHD through non-stimulant medications. However, stimulant medications for the treatment of ADHD are not available in all the states through Cerebral.
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