Brightside Health is a subscription-based mental health platform that offers online psychiatry and therapy to individuals 18+ throughout the US. During our independent review, Brightside earned a 4 out of 5-star rating overall. Brightside costs are $95 – $349 monthly depending on which subscription plan you choose. Currently, Brightside accepts select insurance plans.
Rating of Brightside Health’s Online Psychiatry
Emily Guarnotta is a PsyD. that specializes in perinatal and postpartum mood disorders, grief counseling for individuals who suffered miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, as well as infertility support and therapy for new parents and seasoned parents. Dr. Guarnotta has written for Choosing Therapy since 2020 and in the summer of 2022 began reviewing online therapy and psychiatry platforms. During her independent review, Brightside Health earned 4 out of 5 stars overall, performing best in the categories of diagnoses treated and prescription options, geographic location, and online psychiatry cost. However, Brightside underperformed in the categories of psychiatric appointment features and crisis management compared to its competitors
Pros & Cons of Brightside Health
Brightside Health offers online mental health services in all US states. With Brightside, you can choose between three monthly subscription plans and they accept some health insurance plans. However, Brightside only sees individuals over the age of 18 and can only treat anxiety and depression at this time.
How to Sign Up With Brightside Health
To get started, you can sign up on the Brightside Health website.
What Is Brightside Health?
Brightside Health is an online mental health treatment platform that offers medication management and therapy for people dealing with mild to severe anxiety and depression. Brightside Health providers are able to treat generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and more. Brightside is one of the only online mental health treatment platforms to treat people with elevated suicidal risk through its Crisis Care program.
With Brightside Health, you have the option to select between three monthly subscription plans: a medication-only plan, a therapy-only plan, or a combination medication and therapy plan. Services are available to adults ages 18 and older only in the United States.
Before getting started with Brightside Health, you will have to complete their online assessment, which asks questions about your symptoms, family history, past mental health treatment, and physical health. If you are a good fit for Brightside Health’s services, then you will be matched with a provider and can schedule an appointment. Brightside Health automatically matches you with providers based on your location and schedule. Providers are licensed in the state where they practice and have education and experience working with depression and anxiety.
Brightside’s medication management plans connect you with a licensed prescriber in your state. They can prescribe medications for depression, like antidepressants, and medications for anxiety, however, they do not prescribe controlled medications. Medication visits are typically 15 minutes long and during this time, you and your provider will discuss how you are doing, talk about your care plan, and answer any questions. Brightside can ship your medication to you for an additional $15 fee per medication. Unfortunately, due to the length of these appointments, Brightside earned 1 star in the “Psychiatric Appointment Features” category of our online psychiatry scoring criteria.
If you choose a plan that includes therapy, you will be able to meet weekly with your therapist and have the option to purchase additional sessions for $59 each. Your first therapy session with your therapist is 45 minutes long and then future sessions are 30 minutes long. All Brightside Health providers practice evidence-based therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). These therapies are extensively researched and deemed to be effective treatments for anxiety and depression.
All of Brightside Health’s monthly subscription plans also give you access to their self-care program. This program can be accessed through their website after you login. It focuses on skill-building and includes lessons on “Practicing Gratitude,” “Thinking Flexibly,” and “Ready, Set, Goal.”
Crisis Care with Brightside Health
In 2022, Brightside Health launched a Crisis Care program available in select states with health insurance. This program allowed Brightside Health to expand its services from treating individuals with mild to severe depression and anxiety to also treating those experiencing acute suicidal thoughts. The program is based on the Collaborative Assessment and Management of Suicidality (CAMS) framework, which is a clinically-proven approach to treating individuals with active suicidal thoughts or recent attempts. According to Brightside, once a patient is referred to Crisis Care, Brightside Health assigns patients to a CAMS-trained clinician within their network who conducts a detailed 60-minute intake to understand the patient’s level of suicidal ideation, history of suicidality, risk, and protective factors.1 If the clinician determines the patient is appropriate for Crisis Care, an intervention will begin immediately.
If a patient requires a higher level of care than Crisis Care can provide, such as inpatient hospitalization or emergency services, they are referred to a suitable in-network provider of these services. Upon starting Crisis Care, if treatment escalation becomes necessary, Brightside Health has escalation workflows and care coordinators to facilitate referrals to higher levels of care.
All of Brightside’s Crisis Care therapists are licensed professionals with training and experience in crisis response and follow all relevant ethical and legal requirements as well as clinical best practices in supporting the safety and welfare of patients. Clinical supervisors are on-call seven days a week to support crisis response and care escalations as needed. Additionally, only after a Brightside Health clinician determines it is safe to do so can a patient be transitioned from Crisis Care to routine services for ongoing management of symptoms.
Who Is Brightside Health Right For?
Brightside Health is a good fit for those seeking the convenience of online mental health treatment, those seeking evidence-based treatment, and those people experiencing suicidal thoughts.
Seeking the Convenience of Online Mental Health Treatment
Brightside Health allows you to participate in therapy, medication management, or both via telehealth. Services are offered in all 50 states, making treatment more accessible to people across the country. Face-to-face treatment can be difficult for people with transportation challenges, work and family responsibilities, and financial stressors. For this reason, Brightside earned 5 stars in the “Geographic Location” category of our scoring criteria.
People Seeking Evidence-Based Treatment
Brightside Health prides itself on offering evidence-based treatments for anxiety and depression. This means that their providers utilize therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), that are backed by research. You can also track your progress using their online symptom tracker.
People Experiencing Suicidal Thoughts
Brightside Health can also serve people experiencing active suicidal thoughts or who have recently attempted suicide or require follow-up care following hospitalization through their Crisis Care program. The program is available in select states and eligibility restrictions apply. To find out if you qualify, you can contact Brightside Health by reaching out through your account, emailing them at [email protected], or by phone at 415-360-3348.
Who Might Want an Alternative to Brightside Health?
Brightside Health is not right for everyone as they exclusively specialize in anxiety and depression. People with other mental health conditions, such as ADHD or those seeking help with substance use disorders, would need to seek out an alternative to Brightside.
Those With ADHD
Brightside Health does not offer treatment for ADHD. If you have ADHD, you should seek out another telehealth platform, such as Cerebral, or a face-to-face provider that specializes in this area.
To learn more about their medication subscription options, you can read our in-depth review of Cerebral.
Seeking Help With a Substance Use Disorder
Brightside Health does not treat substance use disorders of any kind. If you are seeking medication-assisted treatment for a substance use disorder, you may want to consider a specialty online platform like Bicycle Health. Bicycle Health offers MAT for opioid use disorders. Providers are able to prescribe Suboxone, a medication that can help you stop using opioids and cope with cravings.
To learn more about how Suboxone and online opioid use disorder treatment works, please read our comprehensive review of Bicycle Health.
But people with severe opioid use disorders may need a higher level of care, such as inpatient or residential treatment. In this form of treatment, a person stays at a treatment facility for a period of time and works intensely on their recovery by attending therapy sessions every day. A medical or mental health provider can determine the severity of your opioid use disorder by conducting an evaluation. For help finding an addiction treatment facility, you can call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or use the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator tool.
Brightside Health User Reviews
According to the website Review.io, 86% of Brightside Health users recommended the service. Their website shows a 4.5 out of 5 rating and has over 2,500 reviews. Overall, the reviews were positive, with many patients noting that they were happy with the treatment and care they received. Most of the complaints involved long response times from customer support, communication problems, and scheduling issues.
Good Clinical Care
A large number of reviewers noted that they were happy with the care they received from their medication providers and therapists. Even those who noted problems with customer support often felt like their clinical care made up for it. They described therapy sessions as being helpful and providing beneficial tools to manage anxiety. Many also felt that their psychiatric providers were very knowledgeable and helpful when it came to finding the right medication for them.
Long Response Times
A frequent complaint of Brightside Health users was lack of response from providers and customer service or long wait times to hear back. Some patients reported that it took up to a week to get a response or that they didn’t hear back at all. In my case, I reached out to customer support and it took about a day to get a response back. Some reviewers also reported difficulty scheduling appointments through the company’s scheduling feature.
How Much Does Brightside Health Cost?
Brightside Health costs $95 – $349 monthly depending on the subscription plan you choose. There are additional fees for purchasing more therapy visits and for medication shipping. Brightside earned 5 stars in the “Online Psychiatry Cost” of our scoring criteria.
Brightside’s subscriptions are:
- Medication: $95 monthly and includes a virtual evaluation with a psychiatric provider and ongoing support and monitoring. There is also unlimited messaging with your provider as well as self-care tools online or in the app.
- Therapy: $299 monthly and includes four weekly video therapy sessions, unlimited messaging with your therapist, and the self-care tools. Additional sessions are available for $59 each.
- Medication + Therapy: $349 monthly and includes everything from the medication plan and the therapy plan as one bundle.
Does Brightside Health Accept Insurance?
Yes, Brightside Health does accept some health insurance for mental health. Currently, Brightside Health is in-network with Aetna, Cigna EverNorth, Allegiance, Anthem, and United Healthcare, with plans to expand. During the sign up process, you will have the opportunity to fill in your insurance information to find out whether your plan is accepted. Brightside earned 5 stars in the “Insurance & Out-of-Network Benefits” of our scoring criteria.
If you are out-of-network, Brightside Health will not submit claims for you but they can provide you with a superbill that you may submit to your insurance company for possible reimbursement. Out-of-network reimbursement will depend on your health insurance plan.
How to Attend Your First Appointment with Brightside
Getting started with Brightside Health is quick and simple. It starts with a free assessment, where you will rate your symptoms of anxiety and depression. From there you will fill in some basic information about yourself, which will help match you with a provider. You can then select a subscription plan, pay, and schedule your first appointment. You may be able to schedule an appointment in 48 hours or less.
Here are the steps for getting started with Brightside Health:
- Complete the free assessment and create your account.
- Review the results of your assessment, then select and pay for a monthly subscription.
- After being matched with a provider, select a day and time for you first appointment.
- Download Zoom prior to your first live session.
- On the day of your appointment, log in and click the link to attend your appointment.
- Your provider will ask you questions, give you a diagnosis, and prescribe medication (if applicable).
- Have your medications sent directly to you within 5 to 7 business days.
- Schedule follow-up appointments or have refills set up, depending on the treatment plan you develop with your provider.
Brightside Health Subscriptions: Detailed Reviews
Brightside Health Medication Plan: Detailed Review
Brightside Health’s medication plan costs $95 monthly and includes virtual psychiatry visits and ongoing care. Visits are typically 15 minutes and are held with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. Compared to other platforms, Brightside Health offers a shorter initial evaluation with a psychiatrist. Other platforms like MDLive and Amwell offer 30 to 45-minute initial psychiatry appointments so that providers can gather relevant background information, make a diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan.
Psychiatry with Brightside Health is only available to adults over age 18 dealing with anxiety and depression. Providers are selected for you based on your location and the answers you provide during your assessment. For this reason, Brightside earned 3 stars in the “Provider Matching” category of our scoring criteria. You have the option to message your provider and care team in-between appointments through the company’s website. If you have questions about your treatment after your appointment, you can select “Request a Review” through the portal. Your provider will then determine whether you should schedule another visit.
Brightside Health Therapy Plan: Detailed Review
Brightside Health’s therapy plan costs $299 monthly and includes four teletherapy visits. Initial therapy appointments are 45 minutes and future appointments are 30 minutes. All Brightside Health therapists are licensed and hold master’s or doctorate degrees. If you would like to meet with your therapist more than once a week, you can purchase additional sessions for $59 each.
What Is Therapy Like on Brightside Health?
Brightside Health matches you with a therapist based on your location and answers to your assessment. It typically takes 48 hours to schedule an appointment. The therapy plan also includes unlimited messaging. You can message your therapist directly through the portal, but it may take 24 to 48 hours during the weekdays to hear back. Weekend and evening appointments are available. When I signed up with Brightside Health, I was able to get matched with a therapist right away and schedule an appointment within a few days. The whole process was seamless.
All sessions are held through Zoom. The quality of the video session will depend on your connection. It can help to do a trial run before your initial appointment so that you can fix any issues that come up.
While Brightside Health therapists may vary in their treatment approach, they all offer evidence-based treatments for anxiety and depression, such as cognitive behavioral therapy. Evidence-based treatments have been proven to be effective through rigorous research. You can rest assured that your provider will be utilizing a treatment approach that is proven to help individuals with your specific mental health condition.
Brightside also offers online cognitive behavioral therapy courses and this helped earn them 5 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
Brightside Health Medication + Therapy Plan: Detailed Review
Brightside Health’s medication and therapy plan costs $349 monthly and includes everything from the medication plan and the therapy plans. Through this subscription plan, you save $45 off the cost of purchasing both plans individually. With this plan, your providers will be able to coordinate your care and monitor your progress using progress measures that are viewable on the portal. Depending on the severity of your anxiety and depression, combining therapy and medication together may be more effective than trying either form of treatment alone.
Brightside Health Medication + Therapy Plan: Detailed Review
Brightside Health’s medication and therapy plan costs $349 a month and includes telepsychiatry and four teletherapy visits per month, as well as ongoing care and unlimited messaging. This plan saves you $45 off the cost of purchasing both plans alone.
With this plan, your providers will be able to coordinate your care and monitor your progress using progress measures that are viewable on the portal. Depending on the severity of your anxiety and depression, combining therapy and medication together may be more effective than trying either form of treatment alone.
Brightside Vs. Competitors
Brightside Health is one of many different online mental health treatment platforms available. Compared to its competitors, Brightside Health is similar in cost but serves a more limited range of mental health conditions. One distinguishing feature is Brightside Health’s Crisis Care program, which offers intensive support for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts or recent attempts.
Brightside Health Vs. Cerebral
Brightside Health and Cerebral both offer virtual medication management and therapy. The cost of Cerebral is slightly less, but both platforms accept some health insurance plans. There are also several notable differences. Brightside Health offers care exclusively for depression and anxiety but is able to treat people with elevated suicide risk. Cerebral treats a wider range of mental health conditions, such as opioid and alcohol use disorders, ADHD, and PTSD, but cannot treat anyone with recent or current suicidal thoughts or attempts. Cerebral has options for phone visits, while Brightside Health providers only offer video visits over Zoom. Lastly, Cerebral allows you to choose your own provider and Brightside Health selects a provider for you.
To learn more about how their subscription options work vs Brightside’s, please read our in-depth Cerebral review.
Brightside Health Vs. Talkspace
Talkspace is an online therapy and psychiatry platform. The cost structure of Talkspace’s psychiatry service is different from Brightside Health’s. Unlike Brightside Health, there is no monthly subscription plan. Instead, you pay per visit. The cost of an initial evaluation with Talkspace is $249 and follow-up appointments are $125. If you are paying out-of-pocket, then Brightside Health appears to be more affordable. Both Talkspace and Brightside Health accept some insurance plans and match you with a provider. Talkspace providers treat a wider range of mental health disorders, such as OCD and PTSD, and offer several different options for therapy, including live sessions and messaging.
To learn about everything Talkspace offers, please read our in-depth and comprehensive Talkspace review.
How Has Brightside Health Evolved?
Brightside Health was founded by Brad Kittredge (CEO), Mirene Winsberg (CMO), and Jeremy Barth (CTO) in 2017. They came together to establish the company after seeing firsthand how challenging it was to navigate the healthcare system and find quality mental health care. Their goals in founding Brightside Health were to increase access to mental health treatment for people with depressive and anxiety disorders. For these reasons, Brightside earned 5 stars in the “Reliability & Longevity” category of our scoring criteria.
According to Brightside Health, what sets them apart from other companies is their one-to-one care and evidence-based treatment approach that is tailored to each individual. In December, 2022 they began offering a new Crisis Care program that offers intensive support for people experiencing active suicidal thoughts or who have had a recent attempt or require follow up care after a hospitalization. The program is currently available in 27 states, but has plans to expand in the future.2
The company also intends to continue to grow its network by accepting more health insurance plans and serving a wider range of diagnoses.
Frequently Asked Questions About Brightside Health
What Credentials Do Brightside Providers Hold?
Brightside Health’s medication providers include physicians, psychiatrists, and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Brightside Health’s therapists include psychologists and masters-level therapists. Providers are licensed in the state where they practice and have education and experience working with depression and anxiety. All providers specialize in treating anxiety and depression using evidence-based treatments. Brightside Health’s clinical advisory board also includes experts from top universities who oversee the company’s operations.
How Do I Get Matched With a Provider on Brightside?
Brightside Health matches you with a provider that fits your location and schedule. There are no options to choose your own provider or to view a directory.
Can I Change Providers?
If you would like to change your provider, you can contact Brightside Health at [email protected] and request a change. You will then be matched with a new provider that practices in your state and can accommodate your schedule.
Who Is Eligible for Medication?
Medication is available for adults ages 18 and older dealing with depression and/or anxiety.
What Medications Are Available?
Brightside Health providers prescribe non-addictive antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, including SSRIs and SNRIs. They do not ever prescribe controlled medications for ADHD or anxiety.
Where Is Medication Management Available?
Medication management with Brightside Health is available throughout the US.
How Do I Get My Medication?
Medication is shipped directly to you within 5 to 7 business days. You have the option to either use your insurance benefits to cover the cost of medication or pay a $15 fee per medication. If your provider prescribes refills, these will arrive each month for the same fee.
Can I Use My FSA or HSA Funds?
Yes, you can use your FSA or HSA funds as a form of payment.
How Do I Cancel My Brightside Health Subscription?
To cancel your subscription, log in to your Brightside Health account and click “Settings.” Next, select “Manage Plan.” You will see options to either cancel your medication or therapy plans. If you are unhappy with your treatment, you may want to consider reaching out to your provider to discuss your concerns or switching providers first.
Does Brightside Offer Refunds?
Brightside Health offers refunds for medication subscription plans in some cases. However, they will not offer a refund after you have met with a psychiatric provider. Therapy subscription plans are non-refundable, but you may be able to get a refund if you purchased additional therapy sessions and do not use them. To inquire about a refund, log into your account, click “Help,” and contact the support team. You can also email them at [email protected].
Is Brightside Health HIPAA Compliant?
Brightside Health follows the best practices to keep patient information private and secure. According to their website, they are HIPAA compliant and encrypt all data using 256-bit SSL security. You can learn more by reading Brightside’s Notice of Privacy Practices.
Final Verdict on Brightside Health
Brightside Health is an online psychiatry and therapy platform that earned 4 stars overall during our independent review. This service is ideal for adults over age 18 in the United States who are experiencing anxiety and depression. You can choose between three monthly subscription plans, with the ability to quickly connect with a psychiatric provider and therapist in 48 hours or less. Compared to in-person treatment, these plans are very affordable and you may be able to use your health insurance to help cover the costs. Overall, Brightside Health is worth trying if you are looking for evidence-based treatment for anxiety and depression.
Brightside Health Summary
|Cost of Online Therapy Subscription||$299 monthly |
|Cost of Online Medication Subscription||$95 monthly for medication only |
$349 monthly for medication + therapy
|Insurance Accepted||Yes |
|Frequency of Appointments|| |
Depends on treatment plan
|Messaging with Provider Between Appointments||Yes |
|Provider Choices||Matched |
|Can You Change Providers?||Yes |
|Speed to First Appointment||1 - 3 days |
|Geographic Coverage||United States |
|Age Limitations for Therapy||18+|
|Age Limitations for Psychitary||18+|