Cerebral vs Brightside (Which one would you choose?)

In this article, we will compare the features of two mental health care platforms, Cerebral and Brightside. Both Cerebral and Psychiatry have created strong names in the field of online therapy and tele-psychiatry and have been serving millions of users since their founding. Platforms like these have been instrumental especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The table below will show you the main features offered by Cerebral and Brightside and also help you see the differences in their characteristics.

 Feature  Cerebral  Brightside
 Types of services  Therapy and Psychiatry Therapy and Psychiatry
 Pricing  Min 85 USD Min 299 USD
 Payment options   All major credit or debit cards, HSA, FSA All major credit cards,HSA, FSA
 Insurance   Available Available
 Age group  18 years and above 18 years and above



  • Cerebral can be used from anywhere
  • It offers insurance coverage
  • It has multiple plans for mental health care


  • It does not offer group therapy or couples therapy
  • It can be expensive without insurance coverage
  • Certain medications are not available here



  • Brightside offers more therapy options
  • Medications are delivered to the user
  • It takes a holistic approach



  • Brightside does not allow audio sessions
  • It cannot be used for emergency situations
  • It does not have group therapy, family therapy or teens therapy

About Cerebral

Cerebral was launched in early 2020, which was really good timing considering that the world was already waking up to the pandemic caused by the coronavirus. This platform was founded by Kyle Robertson as a solution for the many problems the current mental health care system faces.

Cerebral was designed in such a manner so that anyone can get access to mental health care in a very short span of time. This platform offers psychiatry services as well as therapy services, both offered by licensed and experienced mental health professionals. The medications are also delivered right to the doorstep of the user, bringing them plenty of convenience.

The services of Cerebral are easily eligible for insurance coverage as the platform has tied up with a large network of insurance providers. It also offers various formats of communication and progress checking. Cerebral follows a collaborative care model for the delivery of its mental health care services.

About Brightside

Brightside was launched in 2019 to mainly help people easily access medications and drugs for the management of their mental health conditions. Through this platform, users can easily create an account, consult a provider and be prescribed the right medications for their condition. In addition to psychiatry services, Brightside also offers therapy sessions for its users.

Users in Brightside can opt for only medications, only therapy and also both these wonderful services. In addition to therapy and medications, the platform also has plenty of resources for self-care and holistic well-being. Users can also modify their plans according to their needs and requirements as the platform allows a lot of personalization.

Brightside also allows insurance coverage as the platform is in-network with a large number of insurance providers. This is available for all the plans in Brightside, including the medications. The platform additionally has other resources like symptom trackers that can help in the overall progress of the user.

Best features of Cerebral

Cerebral offers plenty of features that can be great for anyone who is looking for a mental health care platform. The features of Cerebral are not only versatile but also high in quality. Some of the best features that users have enjoyed are described below.

Cerebral offers a high level of convenience

Users in Cerebral can experience plenty of convenience and comfort. This is mainly due to the online nature of the platform and this can be great for those who have very busy schedules or even for those who cannot leave the house often. Cerebral can also be useful for those who live in remote areas which might not have many licensed providers.

It offers several formats of communication

There are several formats of communication that are available in Cerebral that users can choose according to their needs and preferences. The live sessions with the prescriber or the therapist are conducted via phone calls or live video sessions. The user can also choose to send any number of messages to their care team.

It has care counseling

Cerebral offers a unique approach of mental health care called the collaborative model. In this model, the mental health of the patient is taken care of by a team of professionals rather than just one provider. In Cerebral, this is managed by care counselors who are mental health professionals. These counselors provide emotional support, track progress and coach the patient.


Cerebral can be easily covered through insurance

Insurance coverage is an important factor that users often look for in any type of health care platform. In Cerebral, insurance coverage is made very easy as the platform is in-network with many companies like Cigna, Aetna, Optum and even Humana. This insurance coverage is available for not only the medications but also the therapy services.

It can be used for availing documents

Documents related to the mental health status of the patient can be easily accessed through Cerebral. In this platform, documents related to disabilities and employee leaves can be availed by requesting the provider. Many users have also received their ESA letters from Cerebral. However, this mainly depends on the discretion of the provider.

It can be used for a variety of mental health conditions

A variety of mental health conditions can be treated in Cerebral. The platform is not dedicated to the management of a particular mental health condition but is well-equipped to treat several conditions like anxiety, depression and schizophrenia. However, users with certain conditions like ADHD or Bipolar disorder may not find some medications here.

It has progress tracking

The platform takes a scientific approach in the treatment of mental health conditions. Data about the user and their side effects and symptoms are regularly gathered and incorporated into a progress tracker which is visible to all the members of the care team. The providers in the platform appropriately tweak the treatments based on this data.

Cerebral is completely HIPAA compliant

Users in Cerebral do not have to worry about their safety and security as the platform is completely HIPAA compliant. This is ensured by several safety measures such as encryptions, firewalls and multi-step authentications. The security of the user is further enhanced due to the fact that in-person meetings are not required here.

It offers a range of free resources

Users can also find plenty of free resources and guides in the blog section of Cerebral. There are several articles that deal with diet and mental health, exercise and mental health and even self-care and mental health. The platform also does a great job in providing useful information for those who want to find in-person therapists in their nearby localities.

Best features of Brightside

Brightside is definitely one of the most popular names in the field of online therapy and tele-psychiatry today. The platform boasts of a large library of features that users can find positive for their mental health. Some of these have been noted in the points below.

Users can choose from different plans

There are a number of plans in Brightside that users can choose from. Those who want only Medication can choose the ‘Medication’ plan of Brightside and those who want therapy or counseling can go for the ‘Evidence-based Therapy’ plan. Those users who want both medications as well as therapy can opt for the ‘Medication + Therapy’ plan.

Brightside is very easy to use

The best part of Brightside is that it is pretty to use and very easy to access. The platform can be used through any web browser or even downloaded and installed as an app on any smart device. The prices and plans are all mentioned very transparently in the platform and there are no hidden fees. This makes the process of mental healthcare itself very smooth and easy.

Therapy sessions can be personalized

The therapy sessions in Brightside can be personalized according to the needs of the user. While there is a fixed duration in the therapy sessions, i.e. 30 minutes each, the user can also opt to add additional therapy sessions for their week. They can also opt to have their live therapy sessions through video or live chat formats.

Users can note their progress

Brightside offers an amazing tool called ‘Your Path’ that shows the progress made by the user in the course of their treatment. The data is collected when the user signs up for the platform and also shows them the expected progress to be made. The symptoms are closely tracked and this information is open to both the user as well their provider and can be useful for the treatments.

It offers plenty of skill-building lessons

Brightside not only focuses on improving mental health through therapy and psychiatry. It also ensures a holistic development of the user’s emotional status. This is mainly through plenty of skill-building lessons that are offered in every plan. These can be used to create permanent healthy habits in users which can improve their mental health as well as their physical health.


Brightside can be completely covered by insurance

Insurance coverage is easily available in Brightside. This not only includes the therapy services but also the medications and thus the user has to shell out a very limited amount while seeking mental health care in this platform. Insurance coverage is made available through providers like Cigna and many more.

Medications can be accessed pretty easily

The psychiatry services in the platform can be accessed pretty easily in Brightside. The user can easily consult with a specialist prescriber who can provide prescriptions for appropriate medications. These can be picked up at the local pharmacy or even shipped to the home of the user directly.

The evaluation process is pretty scientific

When users want to sign up for the services in Brightside, they will need to undergo a lengthy evaluation session that will probe them about various mental health issues and problems that they are facing. Users will also have to provide information about the type of provider they are seeking. The results are overtly shown to the user so that transparency is maintained throughout.

Pricing of Cerebral

Cerebral offers mainly three different plans that vary in their features as well as their costs. These plans as well as their prices have been explained as follows.

The Medication + Care Counseling plan

The Medication + Care Counseling plan costs users $85 per month and Cerebral offers this plan at a discounted rate of $30 for the first month. In this plan, the user can access a licensed and experienced psychiatrist for their prescriptions. They can also communicate with their care counselors at any time through messaging.

The Coaching plan

The Coaching plan of Cerebral offers behavioral coaching or therapy to the users at a price of $145 per month or $59 for the first month. In this plan, the users will have therapy sessions conducted through phone calls or video conferencing once a week. They can also send any number of messages to their coach at any time of the day.

The Medication + Coaching plan

The Medication + Coaching plan offers the best of both worlds for the user. This plan comes at a cost of $195 per month or $79 for the first month for new users. In this plan, the user can have access to medications which are delivered by mail. They can also have therapy sessions once a week with a behavioral coach.

Pricing of Brightside

The pricing in Brightside can depend on the type of plan that the user is opting for. The Medication plan costs $95 per month while the Evidence-based Therapy plan costs $299 per month. The Medication + Therapy plan can cost the user $349 per month and Brightside offers a discounted rate of $100 for the first month for any new user in this plan.

Signing up for Cerebral

To sign up for the services in Cerebral, the user will have to first complete the brief assessment provided in the platform. Once this is completed, the user will be prompted to create an appointment for an online session with a consultant provider. This provider will then further evaluate the user and probe their medical history.

The user will also be briefed about the various plans and services offered in Brightside. After this, the user will be matched with a relevant therapist or prescriber or simply both. They will also be acquainted with their care counselors after which they can expect the treatment to commence.

Signing up for Brightside

To enroll for the services offered in Brightside, the user will have to go to the platform’s website and complete the evaluation. The evaluation results will be openly shown to the user and also depicts the progress they can expect to make. The user will then consult with a provider who will plan out their treatment and start their sessions.

Tips for using Cerebral

Cerebral is definitely very easy to use for anyone. However, there are also many new ways to improve the experience of the user. Some tips to help users of Cerebral have been described here.

  • Cerebral allows unlimited messaging with your therapist or behavioral coach. This unlimited messaging feature can be used for not only communication but also for healthy expression and venting. Furthermore, you can also type down issues that you want to speak about in your next live session.
  • The live therapy sessions or live sessions with your prescriber, need to be taken very seriously. You can help by creating a dedicated space for these sessions in your very home where you will not be disturbed often. 

While scheduling appointments, try to schedule them at a time and day where you will not be committed to too many things at once.

  • The Cerebral blog is regularly updated with pointers and tips that can help in many aspects of your life and not just your mental health. Go through this often so that you are continuously updating your knowledge.

Tips for using Brightside

Brightside is a pretty simple and very straightforward platform. Users can however, explore the tips mentioned below to make their experience in this platform smoother and richer.

  • The video sessions in Brightside are for the duration of thirty minutes. While this may not be enough for everyone, you can always add extra live sessions individually.
  • You can also write down talking points in a journal or a piece of paper to remind you of issues that you might want to cover in your live therapy session.
  • You can also maintain a therapy journal where you can write down your goals and also use them for self-expression and venting.
  • While in a live video session, make sure that your selfie-view is turned off so that you can focus more on what your therapist or provider is saying. You can also practice looking directly into the camera lens in order to mimic a more natural eye-contact.

Personal experiences in Cerebral

Users of the mental health care services in Cerebral have mostly had a good experience here. The Cerebral app has a rating of 4.7 stars in Apple apps and a rating of 4.3 stars in Google Play store. Some of the experiences that users have had in this platform have been explored in the points below.

  • Many users have felt that the psychiatry services of Cerebral are very useful for their mental health. Users have mentioned that the providers here are very empathetic and keenly monitor the patient’s progress. As a result, a large percentage of the patients here have had their dosages reduced considerably.
  • Most users have expressed that the platform is pretty easy to use and makes mental health care very simple and quick. Many have had their first appointments in the very day of signing up.
  • Some users have felt that the quality of the therapy services in Cerebral has reduced greatly especially after the platform switched to contracted mental health professionals instead of salaried employees.
  • However, the Cerebral app itself has been found to have a lot of bugs and thus can be frustrating for many who are using it.

Personal experiences in Brightside

Users of Brightside have found positive as well as negative things to say on the matter. Some user experiences have been explained below.

  • Many users have loved the YourPath feature in Brightside as it shows them their exact progress and route of treatment. This has allowed many users to feel as if they are in stronger control of their mental health and emotional state.
  • The psychiatry services of Brightside are also well-acclaimed. Users have expressed great ease in consulting with a provider and then having their medications shipped directly to their home.
  • Most users have felt that the cap of thirty minutes in duration for the live therapy sessions is too less and the platform has to rethink this strategy.



Cerebral and Brightside are certainly two great options for anyone who is looking for mental health care services completely delivered online. Both these platforms offer combinations of therapy and psychiatry and have more or less many of the same features. Cerebral and Brightside together are catering to millions of individuals every day.

Cerebral offers access to medications and also therapy in the same space for everyone. The psychiatry services of the platform are managed by well-experienced providers. There are also a wide range of medications and treatment options that are available in Cerebral. The therapy services and psychiatry services are both eligible for insurance coverage.

Brightside also has options for therapy, psychiatry or both. The therapy sessions are held online and go on for the duration of thirty minutes. The user can additionally add extra live sessions if they want to. Users of this platform can easily determine their progress through the progress tracking feature in Brightside, YourPath.


BetterHelp:  A Better Alternative

If you are on the prowl for an amazing platform that offers superb mental health services, we would highly recommend BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers individual therapy services, couples therapy services and even therapy for teenagers. Furthermore, the platform also provides group therapy sessions that are conducted about once a week.

The subscription to BetterHelp is pretty affordable and while there is no insurance coverage here, the platform provides financial assistance to those who are unemployed, disabled and even those who have veteran status. The financial assistance needs to be renewed every three months and can reduce the costs of therapy by up to 25 per cent.

Frequently asked questions:

What does Brightside prescribe for anxiety?

Brightside has a range of options for those who are dealing with anxiety. The providers may prescribe medications like SSRIs and SNRIs which are non-addictive and thus very safe to use. Controlled substances like Xanax cannot be prescribed here. The platform also encourages therapy for those who are suffering from anxiety.

Does Brightside help with ADHD?

No, Brightside does not treat ADHD. This mainly because the most effective line of treatment of ADHD is through controlled substances like Adderall that are not allowed to be prescribed here.

Does Brightside treat OCD?

Yes, Brightside treats OCD through medication as well as therapy. The medications prescribed for those who are dealing with OCD are often antidepressants which have been proven to be very effective for this mental health condition. Therapy can also help the individual understand the root cause of these mental issues.

Can Cerebral prescribe Adderall?

For the treatment of ADHD, Cerebral can prescribe medications in only some states of the US. However, the first line of action for the treatment of any mental health condition in Cerebral is through non-controlled and non-addictive substances. The prescriber may however, change the course of action depending on the responsiveness of the user.

Does Cerebral take Tricare?

Yes, Cerebral takes Tricare and is in-network with several insurance providers including Cigna, Aetna and even Optum. Through Tricare, many active duty members and their families can easily access mental health care from anywhere.

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