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2022 Cerebral Review: Cost, Medication Management and Benefits

Cerebral is an all-in-one mental health platform for therapy and medication management.

Screenshot of Cerebral's homepage
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

The online platform, Cerebral, entered the mental health market in 2020. Though it's had a shorter time to grow than its competitors, the young platform now has patients in all 50 states.  

Shortly after its launch, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles partnered with Cerebral in October 2021 as its chief impact officer. 

Biles, who stood up for her own mental health during the 2020 Summer Olympics, is a strong advocate for access to therapy and other mental health services.   

Cerebral's press release about the partnership said, "You don't have to be an Olympic athlete to feel burnt out, pressured by life or anxious about your performance. We are all human, and we all need to care for our mental health, just like we need to care for our physical health."

With a big name like Biles behind this platform, what does Cerebral have to offer? More importantly, is it right for you?

To review Cerebral, I looked at its mental health plans, pricing, app, special features and who it is best for. I didn't consider the experience of working with a therapist or psychiatrist on Cerebral since treatment and results vary. Here is what I found.   

What is Cerebral?

Screenshot of Cerebral's care team homepage
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

Cerebral is an online mental health platform that offers anyone ages 18 and older access to therapy and medication management. It is a monthly subscription service that ships your medication directly to your door -- if prescribed by your provider.  

Providers on Cerebral can treat anxiety, depression, insomnia, postpartum depression, trauma and PTSD, and in certain states, ADHD, bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse, chronic obesity and opioid use. Cerebral plans to expand into pediatric care and schizophrenia soon.  

Cerebral offers a convenient connection with your care provider or psychiatrist via phone or video call through their app or website.  

How does Cerebral work?

Cerebral's preliminary assessment
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

Signing up for Cerebral is as simple as visiting their website, creating an account and inputting your zipcode to ensure service is available in your area. You will then be prompted to answer a few questions about why you are seeking Cerebral. Out of a list, you can select as many conditions that you believe apply to you, such as ADHD, alcohol use disorder, anxiety, bipolar, depression, insomnia, "I'm not sure" or other.

The last step to signing up is a preliminary clinical questionnaire. You will answer each prompt with "nearly every day," "more than half the days," "several days" or "not at all." Try to answer as honestly as possible.

Next, review your assessment and choose your plan. Cerebral will recommend a plan based on your answers, but you have the power to decide which is best for you. Based on your selected plan, you will have a list of therapists and psychiatrists to choose from. You can then meet with a provider within a week or sometimes a little longer. 

It should be noted that Cerebral will ask you to pay the monthly subscription before seeing a therapist or provider.   

Subscription plans

Screenshot of Cerebral's mental health plans
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

Your monthly Cerebral subscription includes appointments with providers once to four times a month, at most. However, you can chat with your therapist online at any time.

Cerebral offers three categories of plans to choose from: mental health, nutrition and weight loss medication or opioid use treatment plans. 

The mental health plans to choose from include: 

  • Medication and Care Counseling plan (meet once a month)
  • Medication and Therapy plan (meet up to four times a month)
  • Medication and Coaching plan (meet up to four times a month)
  • Therapy plan (meet up to four times a month)
  • Coaching plan (meet up to four times a month)

The main differences between the plans are Cerebral's care counselors, therapists and coaches.

  • Care counselors hold a bachelor's or master's degree and have undergone training. They collaborate with you and your prescribing provider on your treatment journey.
  • Therapists hold master's or doctoral degrees, are licensed to practice in one or more states and have undergone training. These professionals help address severe issues or problems. 
  • Coaches hold a bachelor's or master's degree, have a coaching background and have undergone training. Coaches give you tools and strategies to use in your everyday life. 

Only therapists on Cerebral are licensed, certified and able to diagnose mental illnesses. While some care counselors are therapists, not all are, and none of the coaches are certified therapists. Sessions with care counselors and coaches only last about 30 minutes. 

If you require a prescription alongside counseling, therapy or coaching, choose one of the top three plans. If you would only like to talk with someone, choose between the bottom two. 

Cerebral offers two nutrition and weight loss plans:

  • Nutrition-Only plan (meet once a month)
  • Weight Loss Medication plan (meet once a month)

Main differences between plans is that the Nutrition-Only plan meets with a dietitian monthly, and the Weight Loss Medication plan meets with a prescriber and a dietitian monthly.     

Cerebral only offers one opioid use treatment:

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment plan (meet once a month)

This plan is for those looking to address their opioid use through counseling and medication. A prescriber will determine if Suboxone is right for you. This can't be shipped to your door, but you can pick it up from your local pharmacy.

What does Cerebral cost?

The out-of-pocket pricing breaks down as follows:

  • Medication and Care Counseling plan: Membership starts at $85 a month ($30 for your first month)
  • Medication and Therapy plan: Membership starts at $325 a month ($139 for your first month)
  • Therapy plan: Membership starts at $259 a month ($99 for your first month)
  • Nutrition-Only plan: Starts at $69 a month
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment plan: Starts at $250 a month

The Coaching and the Medication and Coaching plans are not available to in-network patients. Cerebral does not provide the cost of the coaching plans or the weight loss medication plan. 

Cerebral medication management  

Depending on your membership plan, you will have access to medication and a care counselor, medication and a therapist or medication and a coach. Cerebral also offers at-home delivery for prescriptions. 

If you choose the Medication and Care Counseling plan or Medication and Therapy plan, the delivery cost will be covered in your subscription. However, the cost of your medication will be separate, and you will be able to use your insurance to cover the cost if applicable. Without insurance, medications usually cost $10 out of pocket but can cost more. 

What types of medication does Cerebral provide?

It should be noted that Cerebral does not prescribe stimulants. In April 2022, a lawsuit was filed against Cerebral, as a former executive at Cerebral accused the company of over-prescribing stimulants and benzodiazepines to patients and not being transparent about client data breaches. The lawsuit is ongoing, but in response, Cerebral has ceased all controlled substance prescriptions to new clients. By October 2022, all existing clients will lose access to controlled substances, as well.   

Cerebral therapy services

Screenshot of Cerebral's therapy information page
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

If you choose the Therapy plan or Medication and Therapy plan, you will meet with a certified, licensed therapist who holds a doctoral or master's degree. Your therapist will help you work through and treat the most severe and problem-some symptoms, as well as give you the right techniques to cope. Each therapy appointment is 45 minutes.    

What types of therapy does Cerebral provide?

Cerebral's app

Not only is your provider available to reach on Cerebral's website, but you can also use their app. 

Cerebral's app seems to be well-received, as it has a high rating of 4.6 stars on the App Store and 4.3 stars on Google Play Store

On the app you can:

  • Instantly message your provider(s)
  • Schedule appointments 
  • See mental health assessment
  • Renew and track prescriptions to your door
  • Access lessons, worksheets and grounding and breathing exercises

Does Cerebral accept insurance? 

If Cerebral is in-network with your insurance company, your monthly subscription will be $30, regardless of your plan. However, that doesn't cover prescription costs or copays.

Cerebral accepts insurances like Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and Medicare. However, each state has its own few selected insurances. For example, North Carolina only accepts Aetna.  

Benefits of using Cerebral 

Cerebral allows clients access to both medication management and therapy (even coaches and care counselors). The other major benefits of this platform include:

  • Subscriptions or memberships are FSA and HSA eligible (if you're paying out of pocket)
  • Prescriptions are delivered directly to your door
  • The platform is in-network with multiple insurance plans
  • Has prescribing providers available in all 50 states 

Potential drawbacks of Cerebral

The points of concern with Cerebral center around state, insurance and prescription restrictions. Cerebral can only treat ADHD, bipolar disorder, alcohol dependency, obesity and opioid use in certain states. The other major drawbacks of Cerebral to keep in mind include:

  • Coaching is currently only available to new subscribers, paying out-of-pocket in certain states
  • Coaches (and some care counselors) are not licensed therapists
  • Some talk therapy services are only available in selected states
  • On-going lawsuit regarding stimulant prescriptions and data breaches  

Is Cerebral right for you?

Screenshot of Cerebral's app on three phones
Screenshot by Caroline Igo/CNET

Cerebral is a good place to start if you're not feeling like yourself and want to understand the underlying condition behind your most troublesome symptoms. The platform offers a lot of subscription and provider options. Especially if Cerebral is in-network of your insurance provider and you don't mind online appointments, Cerebral might be worth a try.  

However, consider the potential restrictions that Cerebral might have with your state, condition, required care, insurance and medication needs. Cerebral is unable to prescribe controlled substances. If you require that kind of prescription and care, please speak with your doctor to plan accordingly.  

If you have thoughts about hurting yourself, Cerebral is not the appropriate channel. If you have an emergency or are in a life-threatening situation, please contact your local police, the nearest emergency room or the National Suicide Prevention Lifetime at 1-800-273-8255.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.