Cerebral is a subscription-based therapy and psychiatry platform that earned 4 out of 5 stars overall during our independent review. With Cerebral, individuals 18 years and older can attend weekly video or phone therapy sessions or monthly medication management appointments with the provider of their choice. Subscriptions cost $99 – $325 monthly, depending on the plan you select and they accept many major insurance plans.
Rating of Cerebral’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, Cerebral earned 4 out of 5 stars overall, performing best in the categories of psychiatric appointment features, geographic location, and insurance. However, Cerebral underperformed in the categories of customer service and reliability compared to its competitors.
Pros & Cons of Cerebral
Cerebral offers a range of mental health services to adults across the United States. With Cerebral, you can select between several monthly plans, choose your own provider, and even choose between video or phone sessions. Unfortunately, the alcohol treatment program is not available nationwide and there have been technical issues with the app.
What Is Cerebral Mental Health?
Cerebral is a subscription-based online mental health platform that offers therapy and psychiatry to individuals 18 years and older throughout the United States. All therapy sessions are 45 minutes long and initial psychiatry appointments are 30 minutes long. You can choose to attend your appointments either via video or phone call. With Cerebral, you will be able to choose from several subscription plans as well as select your own provider after you sign up. Depending on which plan you select, costs range from $99 – $325 monthly.
Cerebral’s three subscription plans are:
- Medication + Care Management Plan – For $99 monthly, you will receive a 30-minute initial evaluation, a diagnosis, and a prescription (if needed) by a medical prescriber. Medication will be mailed to you on a monthly basis. You will also have access to in-app self-care tools.
- Therapy Plan – For $259 monthly, you will attend weekly 45-minute video or phone sessions with a licensed therapist of your choice. You will also have access to the care team for questions and as well as progress-tracking tools and self-care tools.
- Medication + Therapy Plan – For $325 monthly, you will have access to everything from the medication plan and the therapy plan.
With Cerebral, medication management is provided by licensed psychiatric providers. The first appointment is an evaluation that takes about 30 minutes and you will attend the appointment from the Cerebral app or through the website. Follow-up appointments are approximately 15 minutes long and may be scheduled monthly or less frequently depending on the treatment plan that you develop with your provider. For these reasons, Cerebral earned 5 stars in the “Psychiatric Appointment Features” category of our online psychiatry scoring criteria.
Cerebral prescribes medications for a range of mental health conditions, including medication for depression (including postpartum and menopausal depression), medication for anxiety, insomnia, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Depending on location, Cerebral also provides treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, alcohol and opioid use disorders, and obesity. Cerebral will only prescribe non-controlled medication for ADHD and does not offer prescriptions for stimulant medications. They are also expanding to treat schizophrenia and pediatric conditions in the near future.
Much like its competitor Brightside Health, Cerebral offers a stand-alone therapy plan or a medication + therapy plan. Cerebral’s therapy subscriptions include weekly 45-minute video or phone sessions with a therapist of your choosing each month. Brightside only allows you to attend video therapy sessions, which makes Cerebral a more user-friendly option for those uncomfortable with being on screen. To learn more about how subscriptions work with Brightside, you can read our detailed review of Brightside.
Cerebral offers self-care tools in their app under a tab called “Learn.” You will have some assigned work to complete, but you can also explore what else there is in the “Discover” section. Here you will find learning modules on topics like “What Is Anxiety?”, “What is CBT?”, and “Goal Setting”. There are also grounding techniques, a journaling tab, and two cognitive behavioral therapy worksheets to complete. You can even listen to a meditation, a visualization exercise, or a progressive muscle relaxation exercise. Cerebral’s wide range of offerings earned it 4 stars in the “Extra Features & Resources” category of our scoring criteria.
Alcohol Dependency Care
Cerebral has prescribers that are able to provide care for alcohol dependence and can offer therapy and medication treatment. Common medications Cerebral will prescribe for alcohol dependency issues are naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate. To determine if this program would be a good fit for you can speak with your care team after you sign up for a subscription.
Alcohol dependency care is available in: Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Who Is Cerebral Right For?
Cerebral would be a great fit for those seeking medication and therapy in one subscription, those seeking alcohol dependency care, and anyone looking for specialized case management.
People Seeking Medication & Therapy
Cerebral would be a great option for those who would like to bundle therapy and medication management into one convenient subscription option. The Medication + Therapy subscription will allow you to receive an evaluation, a diagnosis, a prescription, and weekly therapy sessions with licensed providers. You will be able to meet via video or phone call when it fits your schedule and have medications shipped directly to you.
People Looking for Alcohol Dependency Care
Cerebral is able to provide care for alcohol dependency and prescribe medications like naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate. This program is available in over 30 US states and allows those looking for help a private and convenient way to obtain treatment. To determine if this program would be a good fit for you can speak with your care team after you sign up for a subscription.
Anyone Seeking Specialized Case Management
Cerebral will assign specialized complex case managers to patients who express active suicidal ideation or have just come out of a crisis event.1 This service provides higher touch care and support (i.e., you will be in contact with your provider much more frequently). Case managers will also engage in symptom monitoring, skills training, education, and include facilitating referrals and coordinating care with local resources.
Who Might Want an Alternative to Cerebral?
While Cerebral offers treatment for a wide range of mental health disorders and addictions, it will not be the best fit for everyone. People experiencing an active crisis, those needing medical detox, and anyone under the age of 18 will need to seek an alternative.
Anyone Experiencing an Active Crisis
Cerebral is not able to provide 24-hour crisis intervention services. If you are experiencing thoughts of hurting yourself or others, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or 988, or present to your local emergency room. The Lifeline is open 24/7 and free of charge. If you have any questions about your medication, you can reach out to your care counselor or therapist on Cerebral, but you may not get an immediate response.
Anyone Needing Medical Detox
Cerebral offers medication and therapy for those with alcohol use disorders. This can be a good treatment option for people with mild alcohol use disorders who would like outpatient treatment via telehealth. However, people with severe substance use disorders often require a more intensive level of care, like medical detox and inpatient treatment.1
Cerebral only offers therapy and medication management to individuals over the age of 18. Children and teens that need these types of services will need to seek in-person care or through an online platform like Brightline Mental Health. Brightline has therapists and psychiatrists that can treat children and teens aged 6 – 18.
To learn more about how much care costs, you can read our comprehensive review of Brightline Mental Health. If you’d like your child to see a therapist in person, you can consult an online therapist directory and filter for your needs.
Cerebral User Reviews
Cerebral has a 4.6-star rating from 27,100+ reviews in the Apple App Store and a 4.2-star rating from 10,000+ reviews in the Google Play Store. Cerebral members noted positive and negative aspects of the service.
Many Cerebral users highlighted the convenience of the service. After signing up for an account, selecting a provider, and scheduling an appointment, they were able to get help more quickly than traditional face-to-face psychiatry. Users felt that it helped them save time and money, and was less of a hassle than getting their prescriptions from other providers.
One of the most common complaints among Cerebral users was technical issues. Users reported difficulty navigating the app and problems reaching customer service for assistance. Because Cerebral relies on technology to deliver its services, it’s not surprising that users may encounter challenges. Cerebral can be reached by phone at (415) 403-2156 or by email at [email protected] The company’s office hours are Monday to Friday 6 am to 6 pm PT and Saturday to Sunday 7 am to 4 pm PT.
How Much Does Cerebral Cost?
Cerebral costs $99 – $325 monthly depending on which subscription plan you choose. If Cerebral is in-network with your insurance company, the plans will cost $30 monthly in addition to any co-pays for your visits and medication. Medication subscriptions include the cost of shipping fees, but do not include the cost of medications, which start at $10. Cerebral earned 5 out of 5 stars in the “Online Psychiatry Cost” category of our scoring criteria.
The three main subscription plans are:
- Medication + Care Management Plan – For $99 monthly, you will receive an evaluation, a diagnosis, and a prescription (if needed) by a medical prescriber. Medication will be mailed to you on a monthly basis and you can text your care team in between appointments if needed. You will also have access to all of the self-care tools like worksheets, meditations, a journal, and learning modules.
- Therapy Plan – For $259 monthly, you will attend weekly video or phone sessions with a licensed therapist of your choice. You can text your care team anytime with questions as well as view your symptom scores. You will also have access to all of the self-care tools like worksheets, meditations, a journal, and learning modules.
- Medication + Therapy Plan – For $325 monthly, you will have access to everything from the medication plan and the therapy plan.
Currently, the first month of the therapy-only plan is discounted to $99 or you can choose a one-time appointment for $65.
Does Cerebral Accept Insurance?
Yes, Cerebral does accept most major commercial health insurance plans. The company is always expanding and adding new health insurance companies to its network, so if they do not accept your insurance at this time, they may in the future. If your health insurance plan is not in-network with Cerebral, they can assist you in using your out-of-network benefits. For these reasons, Cerebral earned 5 stars in the “Insurance & Out-of-Network Benefits” category of our scoring criteria.
Cerebral accepts the following health insurance plans:
- Anthem: GA, CA, ME
- Blue Cross Blue Shield: TX, PA, WV, IA, SD, NE, WY, MT, VT, MD, DC
- Blue Shield: CA
- Cigna: CA, NY, AZ, WA, TX, FL, GA, IL, VA, PA
- Magellan Health: National
- United Healthcare / Optum: GA, CA, TX, NY, AZ, FL, PA, VA, WA
Cerebral will assist you in verifying your insurance coverage once you sign up for an account. Depending on your insurance plan and the specific medication, you may also be responsible for a copay for your medication(s).
If your health insurance plan is not in-network with Cerebral, you may still be able to use your insurance to help cover the costs of the service. After you pay for the services upfront, Cerebral can provide you with a superbill that you will submit to your insurance company if you have out-of-network benefits. Once your claim is processed, your insurance company may reimburse you for some or all of the costs.
How to Get Started With Cerebral
Getting started with Cerebral is fairly quick and easy, taking less than 10 minutes to complete the onboarding process. You can choose to download the app from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store or begin the process through the Cerebral website.
- Select what condition (ADHD, anxiety, depression, etc.) you are seeking help managing.
- Complete the preliminary assessment questions.
- Read all of the subscription types and select on that best suits your needs.
- If enrolling in a medication plan, answer additional symptom questions, verify your identity with a government ID, and then choose a prescriber and a date and time to meet them.
- If enrolling in therapy only, select a provider and schedule an appointment that works for your schedule.
- On the day of your scheduled appointment, log in to your Cerebral account and click on the link to your patient home screen.
- Schedule any medication follow-up appointments as directed by your prescriber or schedule your next therapy session for the following week.
Cerebral Subscription Plans: Detailed Reviews
Cerebral Medication + Care Management Plan: Detailed Review
The Medication + Care Management Plan is the most affordable plan offered through Cerebral and costs $99 monthly. If you have health insurance, the cost for this plan is reduced to $30 per month plus copays. This plan allows you to receive an initial evaluation, a diagnosis, and a prescription (if needed) by a medical prescriber, which will be mailed to you monthly. You will have access to in-app scheduling, progress monitoring, messaging with the care team, and self-care tools, like a journal and learning modules.
Cerebral offers medication services for a range of mental health conditions, including ADHD, alcohol, anxiety, bipolar, depression, and insomnia. All of Cerebral’s medication management plans allow you to select your own provider and they are psychiatrists, physician assistants, or psychiatric nurse practitioners. Once you select and meet with your provider, they will provide you with ongoing care. Other online psychiatry and medication management platforms, like Talkspace and Brightside, automatically match you with a provider, making Cerebral a great option if you want to have more say in your care.
During your initial evaluation, which takes approximately 30 minutes, your provider will be able to provide you with a diagnosis and discuss if medication would be beneficial. If you are prescribed medication, Cerebral will ship your medication to your door. Follow-up appointments are approximately 15 minutes and typically scheduled monthly but may be more or less frequent if your provider feels that it is necessary. If you have any questions or concerns between appointments, you can message your care team through the app or website and they will reach out to your provider.
Caitlin Bell, Mental Health Technology Editor for Choosing Therapy, signed up for the Medication + Care Management plan. She was able to make an appointment over the weekend, which was perfect for her weekday schedule. At the time of her appointment, she simply logged into the Cerebral app and clicked the link shown on the home screen. The link took her to a virtual waiting room where she entered her name and waited for the prescriber to join. Her prescriber was running behind schedule but messaged Caitlin to let her know.
After the prescriber took her complete medical history, Caitlin discussed her current anxiety symptoms and they decided together that a medication called Hydroxyzine would be beneficial to her. Caitlin was surprised that she did not have to wait for her medication to arrive in the mail and was able to pick up her prescription the same day from a local pharmacy. She said that overall her experience was genuinely amazing and it was the first time she felt a prescriber had actually listened to her and didn’t just treat her according to the assessment scores.
Cerebral Medication + Therapy Plan: Detailed Review
Cerebral’s Therapy + Medication plan costs $325 monthly for people without insurance and $30 a month plus the cost of copays for anyone in-network. This plan includes ongoing visits with a prescriber, weekly therapy sessions with a licensed therapist, unlimited messaging, and medication delivery. This plan combines all the benefits of the medication-only plan and the therapy-only plan into a fairly cost-effective bundle. In comparison, Brightside Health has the same plan type and costs $349 monthly, meaning Cerebral will save you around $20 monthly.
Cerebral’s therapy plans include weekly 45-minute phone or video sessions each month with a licensed therapist of your choice. You will also have in-app messaging with your care team, progress tracking, and self-care tools, like journaling and learning modules. During the sign-up process, you are asked about your preference for therapists and you will be given several therapists to choose from. You will be able to view each provider’s availability and schedule an appointment directly through the website or app. Some providers even offer next-day and weekend appointments.
While the sign-up process was relatively easy and took around ten minutes, it is a shame that Cerebral does not allow you to view their therapist directory prior to paying for a subscription. Cerebral’s recommendations were fairly good, however, and finding someone who fits your needs and schedule was easy.
Cerebral Therapy Plan: Detailed Review
Cerebral offers a stand-alone therapy plan that costs $259 monthly for people without insurance and $30 monthly plus the cost of copays for anyone using in-network insurance. Much like the Medication + Therapy plan, you will get four 45-minute video or phone sessions per month with a therapist of your choice. It also includes unlimited messaging with your therapist between live sessions and activities, like the learning lessons and journal.
Cerebral Vs Competitors
Cerebral shares several similarities with other online mental health platforms. When it comes to comparing these platforms, Cerebral seems to offer the largest range of services. Comparing costs between platforms is difficult, though, since they differ in whether they offer monthly memberships or charge a fee per appointment. Using health insurance will also alter the costs, so you should verify your benefits with a platform before signing up if you have any questions.
Cerebral vs Talkspace
Talkspace is arguably one of the biggest online therapy and psychiatry platforms available to consumers in the United States. And while Cerebral is also available in every state in the US, Talkspace has been around much longer and is viewed as a very reliable brand. With Talkspace, you will choose your provider from your top three matches, and therapy and psychiatry exist as separate plans. There is not a bundled option of the two offerings, like with Cerebral, which means Talkspace is potentially much more expensive out-of-pocket than Cerebral.
Cerebral and Talkspace also have different ways of billing for psychiatric care. Out-of-pocket costs for an initial evaluation with Talkspace are $249 and follow-up appointments cost $125. Cerebral, on the other hand, charges a monthly subscription fee with shipping for medication included. Both Talkspace and Cerebral accept insurance, which could lower the out-of-pocket costs and may make them quite comparable in price. However, if you are only seeking medication management, Cerebral’s Medication + Care Management Plan is only $99 monthly making it a really great option.
To learn more about subscriptions and who else Talkspace would be a good fit for, you can read our comprehensive Talkspace review.
Cerebral vs Brightside Health
Like Cerebral, Brightside Health is an online mental health platform offering therapy and medication, though Cerebral can treat a wider range of mental health symptoms. Brightside Health exclusively treats those with anxiety and depression through medication management and therapy. Brightside will automatically match you with a provider based on your preferences, unlike Cerebral which allows you to choose a provider.
The costs for the medication-only plans with Brightside Health and Cerebral are roughly the same, with Brightside costing $95 monthly and Cerebral costing $99 monthly. With both platforms accepting insurance, providing self-care tools, and skill-building content in their apps, determining which platform is right for you may ultimately come down to what your diagnosis is.
To learn more about the CBT and medication programs offered, you can read our in-depth review of Brightside.
How Cerebral Has Evolved
Cerebral was founded in January 2020 with the mission of increasing access to affordable, high-quality mental health care. In May 2022, the company’s CEO stepped down after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into possible violations of prescribing controlled medications.3 Dr. David Mou is the new CEO and was previously Cerebral’s chief medical officer.
According to Dr. Mou, Cerebral is continuing to grow and deliver its mission of increasing access to quality care. At the present time, Cerebral is available in all 50 states, but services like MAT and alcohol treatment are not available in all states. The company has plans to continue to expand its services throughout the country, as well as its insurance network so that more people can access services. They also plan to expand their services to children and teens in the future.
In September of 2022, Cerebral came under scrutiny once again for failing to check and verify IDs. 4 It was discovered that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cerebral was desperately trying to keep up with the large influx of patients and failed to do their due diligence. This came to a head when a 17-year-old that was being treated for depression with an anti-depression with a warning label for adolescents took their own life. Cerebral never reached out to the young man’s parents to notify them he was being treated without consent. The company stated the young man misrepresented his age and while they regret he received care without consent, the treatment was appropriate.
Due to how young Cerebral is in comparison to other online mental health platforms and the ongoing scandals surrounding the brand, Cerebral earned 3 stars in the “Reliability & Longevity” category of our scoring criteria.
Previously, Cerebral’s initial psychiatry appointments were roughly 45 minutes long but are now only 30 minutes long. They also no longer offer nutritional counseling, care counseling, or coaching services to any new clients or patients and are going to be discontinuing their medication-assisted treatment plan. Cerebral now specifically states throughout its website that controlled medications are not prescribed at all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cerebral
Who Is Eligible for Medication?
Medication management is available for individuals 18 years and older who live in the United States.
What Medications Are Available?
Cerebral providers typically prescribe SNRIs and SSRIs to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Cerebral does not prescribe any controlled medications for any diagnoses.
Where Is Medication Management Available?
Medication management is available in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
Medication Shipping Costs
Shipping costs are included in your subscription fee, with the actual cost of medications billed separately. You can use your health insurance to pay for your medication or you can choose to pay out-of-pocket. The typical cost per medication is approximately $10, but may be higher for certain medications.
Therapist Vetting and Credentials
Cerebral therapists hold master’s or doctoral degrees in counseling, social work, or psychology. They are also required to be licensed in the state in which they practice and see clients. All providers on Cerebral have their license numbers listed in their profiles and you can easily look them up in your state’s mental health provider databases.
Can You Choose a New Therapist?
If you would like to choose a new therapist, you can message your care team through the app or the website. Your care team will assist you in selecting a different therapist and scheduling an appointment.
Can I Use my HSA or FSA?
Yes, you may use FSA or HSA funds to pay for Cerebral. To do this, you will input your FSA/HSA account information as your form of payment instead of a credit card. If you need a receipt for reimbursement, you can contact Cerebral and they will provide you with one.
How Do I Cancel My Cerebral Subscription?
To cancel your Cerebral subscription, you must email [email protected] with your cancellation request. You must do so by 9am PT at least one business day before your scheduled billing date. Cerebral will then send you a cancellation form to complete. All cancellation requests are handled within a few hours. After your subscription is canceled, you can still view your records through Cerebral and you may continue to use your subscription until the end of the subscription period.
Does Cerebral Offer Refunds?
No, Cerebral does not offer refunds on subscriptions or medications already shipped to you. If you have received the wrong medication or have an issue with your order, you can contact Cerebral at [email protected]
Is Cerebral Legit and HIPAA Compliant?
Final Verdict on Cerebral
Overall, Cerebral is a fairly good online therapy and psychiatry platform for people experiencing a range of mental health conditions. There are several subscriptions to choose from, they accept many major health insurance plans, and you can choose your own provider. During our independent review, Cerebral did earn 4 stars overall on our online psychiatry scoring criteria due to these facts among many others.
Unfortunately, Cerebral has been in the news several times for questionable practices, they only offer services to individuals over the age of 18, and their MAT plan is going to be discontinued soon. Despite this, Cerebral is still worth looking into, especially for a low-cost, out-of-pocket option for medication management.
|Cost of Online Therapy||$259 monthly|
|Age Limitations for Therapy||18+|
|Is Insurance Accepted?||Yes|
|Frequency of Appointments||Weekly|
|Messaging with Therapist Between Appointments||Yes|
|Can You Change Therapists?||Yes|
|Speed to First Appointment||2-3 days|
|Geographic Coverage||All 50 US States|
|Online Psychiatry Offered||Yes|
|Online Psychiatry Cost||$99 Medication + Care |
$325 Medication + Therapy
|Age Limitations for Psychiatry||18+|