If you struggle with anxiety or depression, you’re not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that 40 million American adults live with an anxiety disorder. Around 21 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in 2020.
Deciding to get help can sometimes be the hardest part, especially if you’re new to seeking mental health help. Sites like Brightside have emerged to address issues related to anxiety and depression through therapy, medication, or both.
But is Brightside the right online mental health service for you? Read our comprehensive review to find out about subscriptions, services, pricing, privacy, and more.
We recommend Brightside for those looking for user-friendly and convenient online mental health help. If you live with anxiety or depression, Brightside can help you via talk therapy, medication, or a combination of both. They also promote progress monitoring to ensure that treatment is working. Brightside’s services are a good value but are more affordable if you have health insurance.
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Special Offer: $100 OFF Your First Month Therapy and Medication Plan
Brightside is an online mental health platform that treats anxiety and depression. Through medication, therapy, or a combination of both, you can receive treatment for a variety of related issues, including:
With a quick questionnaire and online consultation with a provider, you’re on your way to better understanding your mental health and the steps you need to take for enhanced wellbeing. Brightside’s goal is to make receiving psychology and psychiatry services simple, affordable, and straightforward — no long wait times, complicated rules, or high price tags. Plans even include follow-up appointments with your provider for medication adjustments or talk therapy (depending on your needs).
Brightside plans are available in all 50 U.S. states, and anyone 18 years or older can receive treatment. Providers include therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, and psychiatric nurse practitioners. Brightside vets their licensed providers and ensures that they meet strict requirements, including graduation from top medical schools and years of experience.
Remote psychological and psychiatric care does not require in-person exams or blood tests for diagnosis. Instead, practitioners rely on your medical and mental health history and their own judgment when deciding which conditions you may have. Remote care also allows quick follow-ups and easy access to your doctor without waiting weeks for an appointment. Brightside’s convenience and ease of use help you receive care faster and without hassle.
Brightside is committed to understanding how their services impact customers. They provide surveys periodically throughout your experience to monitor progress and openly provide survey data on their site to demonstrate the program’s effectiveness. They use the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) and General Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7), two instruments widely used for depression and anxiety self-reporting.
According to their survey results:
Our testers found Brightside to be an efficient and welcoming platform with straightforward instructions for getting started and knowledgeable providers. Getting treatment for anxiety or depression can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never received treatment before. It feels good to have a site and provider that are intuitive and accessible to ease nerves and make the process easy. Our testers found that Brightside accomplished all of this.
If you’ve received treatment for anxiety and depression before, you can continue that treatment with Brightside. Those who are pretty sure they could benefit from therapy or medication will find Brightside to be user-friendly and convenient. Even if you’ve never received mental health care before, you’ll find this platform easy to navigate.
However, if you know that you’d prefer in-person care or live with a condition that requires face-to-face care for diagnosis or treatment, Brightside may not be the best option for you. Some high-risk conditions — like suicide attempts, self-harm, psychosis, or mania — are best left to in-person providers. You may want to also look elsewhere for care if you:
Create an account with Brightside and complete the mental health questionnaire. Then, you’ll receive a customized treatment plan. Brightside offers several ways to get treatment for anxiety and depression, including:
The self-care techniques are available for members only and include short videos that help you build mental health skills like:
These videos are meant to complement therapy and medication to help you see long-lasting results.
Therapy includes unlimited messaging and weekly, 30-minute sessions with your provider. You can also opt for additional sessions as you move through Brightside’s resources.
A psychiatric provider evaluates you to determine if you need medication. If you receive a diagnosis, your provider creates a personalized treatment plan, including what medications you should take and how often. Brightside offers monthly medication delivery. As you begin medication treatment, check in with your provider to ensure correct dosing and discuss any side effects.
Keep in mind: Brightside providers do not always prescribe medication. Part of their evaluation includes deciding whether or not medication is the best path for you. They may, instead, recommend therapy without medication. Also, Brightside providers won’t prescribe controlled substances, such as Xanax, Ambien, Klonopin, or Valium.
Based on your questionnaire, Brightside suggests a path forward for you. There are three primary services that Brightside offers:
Self-care resources are available for all members. In your paid account, you also have access to a Refer-a-Friend link where you can provide contact info for anyone you think could benefit from Brightside’s services. You also have access to a list of Crisis Resources that can help if you need emergency care.
If you choose the therapy option, you can take advantage of weekly sessions, unlimited messaging, and monitored progress to help your mental health journey. Here’s how to get started with Brightside therapy:
The Therapy Plan costs $299 per month, but Brightside offers $50 off your first month for a total of $249. You can also purchase additional therapy sessions for $59 each. Brightside accepts both Aetna and Cigna insurance, and you can use HSA or FSA funds to purchase your subscription. You can also cancel the subscription at any time.
If you choose the Medication option, you receive a comprehensive evaluation from a psychiatric provider, unlimited messaging and video follow-ups, free medication delivery, and a customized treatment plan. Here’s how to get started with Medication:
The Medication Plan costs $95 per month, but Brightside offers $50 off the first month for a total of $45. If you have insurance, you’re responsible for paying the pharmacy copay for all medication. If you don’t have insurance, you pay $15 per medication. Brightside accepts Aetna and Cigna insurance, and you can also use HSA or FSA accounts. Cancel your subscription at any time.
The Medication & Therapy Plan is the most comprehensive, including all of the benefits of the Medication Plan and the Therapy Plan. If you choose this option, you receive:
The Medication & Therapy plan costs $349 per month, which is a $45 discount. Brightside also offers an additional discount of $100 on your first month, bringing the total to $249. You also pay your pharmacy copay for medication if you have Cigna or Aetna insurance. If you don’t have insurance, you’ll pay $15 per prescription. You can also pay using HSA or FSA funds and cancel your subscription at any time.
What makes Brightside stand out from other online mental health sites is the combination of therapy and psychiatry. Many mental health companies — like Betterhelp — only offer therapy services. You’d need to look elsewhere for medication. Even companies that offer both therapy and psychiatry — like Talkspace — don’t offer them as a package deal. You’d need two separate subscriptions or pay two separate bills to take advantage of both.
Brightside’s value comes from the fact that it offers the Medication & Therapy Plan for those who need both but don’t want to access them from different companies or pay for them separately. This is similar to companies like Cerebral.
Cerebral is probably the most well-known and reputable mental health company that offers services similar to Brightside. View the chart below to see how these two companies’ monthly prices compare.
|Medication & Therapy||$349||$325|
Brightside is easy to join and navigate. The site guides you through the steps you need to take to access a therapist or psychiatrist. Here are the five basic steps:
The initial questionnaire is the first step in getting help. Here are some details about what this assessment includes.
After you’ve finished the questionnaire, create a free account with your email address and password. Then, you can view your test results, which identify where you fall on a scale of mild to severe with the mental health issues you identified.
Next, see treatment options, including the Medication Plan, Therapy Plan, and Medication & Therapy Plan. Brightside provides treatment recommendations for you based on your assessment results.
Then, Brightside asks some questions to make sure that remote care is a good option for you. These questions include basic details like your zip code and birthdate. But you’re also asked about any physical health concerns, history of schizophrenia or psychosis, and past suicide attempts. Keep in mind that Brightside recommends in-person care to patients with certain mental health concerns, hence the need for these questions.
Lastly, Brightside asks about your health insurance status. If you have health insurance, you’re provided with two options: Cigna or Aetna. If you don’t have health insurance (or the ones listed), you’re directed to the subscription page to choose your plan and pay using a credit/debit card or HSA/FSA funds.
Brightside is HIPAA-compliant and is committed to protecting all of your sensitive mental health information. Your provider is the only one who has access to your information. Brightside also uses 256-bit SSL encryption to keep all of your personal information on the site safe.
Brightside does allow you to pay for subscriptions with HSA and FSA funds. They also accept insurance but only Aetna or Cigna. Those using health insurance and receiving medication must pay for any pharmacy copays.
At Innerbody Research, we customize our evaluation criteria depending on the type and nature of the health-related service or product. In general, we have five broad evaluation areas, including:
Quality: How well does the company deliver its core service(s) or product(s)? How is advanced technology used for accuracy and safety? What evidence of effectiveness exists to justify the company’s approach? Are manufacturing standards of high quality?
User-friendliness: How intuitive and convenient is the service or product? To what degree is the company interface helpful and understandable?
Value: Are you getting your money’s worth? Are there any hidden costs or charges? Does the company offer discounts?
Privacy: If health data is stored, is it stored securely? Are payments secure? Does the company market your information?
Customer support: With personalized products and services, how well does the company address your individual needs? If a product or service does not work for you, are there satisfaction guarantees or return policies that protect you?
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