We may receive commission if you decide to use counseling services through BetterHelp or other resources on our website.

I. How Online Psychiatry Can Help

Reasons To Choose An Online Psychiatrist

Many people find it intimidating to reach out for mental health support. It is a step of vulnerability and can bring up feelings of anxiety, judgement, and stigma. Online psychiatryis an emerging approach that makes accessing clinical support safe, convenient, and accessible. Finding psychiatric care can be as simple as a text or video phone call from the comfort of your own home.

  • Nearly one in five Americans are dealing with a mental health condition, however less than half actually seek and receive treatment.
  • More than 50% of Americans will meet the criteria to be diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their life, with about half developing conditions by the age of 14.

Accessible avenues to access treatment are appearing to meet mental health needs. Online psychiatry is an essential support that can link you to the help you need from the comfort of your home. It helps you avoid the difficulty of commuting to an office or finding childcare support, or taking time off of work to see a mental health professional.

II. What is an Online Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are typically state-licensed, trained medical doctors who are authorized to diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe medications when necessary, and create treatment plans. An online psychiatrist is a mental health professional who provides their support services via the internet. These services can occur through text, chat, and video platforms such as Zoom, FaceTime, or Duo.

How does online psychiatry work?

An online psychiatrist can evaluate your symptoms and coordinate with your primary care physician. Online psychiatrists can:

  • Work with you to create a treatment plan
  • Schedule follow up sessions
  • Prescribe you medication if necessary
  • Refer you to other relevant supports

Signing up for an online psychiatrist should be an easy process, depending on the provider. Usually, you begin by filling out an intake form with contact information and assessment questions.

Some online treatments occur in real time, providing a live interaction between you and the mental health professional, such as a video chat or text. Other treatments may occur over online communication tools, which the professional reviews and responds to later.

Is online psychiatry effective?

Online psychiatry is legitimate, affordable, and efficient. Clinical outcomes are on par with face-to-face care. You can trust the accuracy of online professionals, the effectiveness of treatment, the quality of care provided, and the confidentiality you desire. Regardless of method, in-person or virtual, the most important condition of clinical efficacy is your relationship with the clinician.

III. Reasons to See an Online Psychiatrist

There are a variety of reasons to seek psychiatric support. These can include many diagnosable mental health conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

You might seek out support from a psychiatrist for numerous challenging mental health concerns, including:

  • Substance use/addiction
  • Self-harm behaviours
  • Worry
  • Severe/chronic stress
  • Negative thinking
  • Intrusive thoughts
  • Low mood
  • Difficulty regarding major life changes
  • Grief/loss
  • Suicidal thinking

Benefits of Online Psychiatry

Safety

Online therapy allows you access to mental health care while limiting physical interaction, a much safer system during the ongoing pandemic.

Finances

Online psychiatrists have less overhead from administration and facility costs and can pass such savings on to you in modified fees. You can save on transportation costs to and from the session

Practicality

Online psychiatry can bridge the gap if your area has limited access to psychiatrists or you have mobility issues that make traveling to an office difficult.

Effectiveness

Research has shown that online mental health support is effective for a wide range of age groups, from children to older adults.

IV. Is Online Psychiatry a Good Fit For You?

Ask these questions as you consider whether online therapy is the right approach for you:

  • How comfortable are you with technology? Online treatment relies on computers, the internet, WiFi, and video or chat applications, which can be glitchy. If you’re prone to stress or anxiety with technology, you might struggle to get treatment this way.
  • Are you comfortable with virtual person-to-person interactions? If you do not like interacting with people online, then online health care might not be your best choice.
  • Do you have any health complications that might make online interaction challenging? If you have a condition or disability that impacts your sight, hearing, or ability to use online video and audio technology, these telehealth visits may not be right for you, though assistance is possible.
  • What can you afford? Cost is always a factor in deciding on treatment options. Check with your insurance provider to see if they cover online mental health services. Reach out to your state Medicaid office to see what services are covered for you.
  • Are you in a mental health emergency? If you need immediate help (thinking of suicide or self-harm), do not wait for an online appointment. Make every effort to speak with someone immediately. Use the national crisis text line, which allows you to connect with a crisis counselor for free by texting CRISIS to 741741 (you can also use Facebook Messenger). It’s staffed by volunteer social workers and clinicians who reply within minutes and are available 24/7.

V. What You Should Know About Online Psychiatry

Do online psychiatrists take insurance? How much does online psychiatry cost?

There are a number of contributing factors that influence the cost for online treatment including the type of treatment, type of session, and the qualifications of the psychiatrist. Insurance may cover online sessions. Check with your insurance to find out what kind of coverage you have access to.

Some clinicians offer services on a sliding scale or income-based consideration which is beneficial for clients where cost might be a serious barrier to accessing support.

Can online psychiatrists diagnose you and prescribe medication?

Usually, a psychiatrist would conduct an in-person assessment prior to prescribing medication. This is especially necessary when working with controlled substances which are federally regulated and can only be prescribed by a doctor who has met you in person. However, largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic, psychiatrists have been granted temporary permission to prescribe controlled substances as medication to online patients. If you are prescribed medication by your online psychiatrist, make sure to discuss any possible side effects and a safety plan to ensure support.

VI. How to Choose an Online Psychiatrist

  • Seek recommendations: Your primary care physician, insurance network, and loved ones may all have recommendations for a good online psychiatrist.
  • Research specialties: If you’re seeking care for a particular condition, find out if a psychiatrist specializes in the help you need.
  • Check insurance: Find out if your insurance will cover the recommended doctors or if you can afford the rates if it doesn’t.
  • Check online care policies: Many psychiatrist offices offer both in-person and online treatment. Some may require a hybrid, where you come in for an in-person consultation and continue online. Each practice is different, so call or check their website to find out how they operate.

Online psychiatry is an effective and convenient way to access mental health care and may be an ideal support for you.

VII. Sources