It goes without saying that 2020 was a year that most of us wish we could forget. And for the millions of Americans that battle daily with mental illnesses, the pandemic has just added even more to our already overloaded plates. Due to social distancing and the contagion factor with coronavirus, telehealth medicine services have become more frequently and widely used across the country.
I was officially diagnosed with severe depression in September of 2020. I had battled anxiety and depression daily, but due to the pandemic and already having had personally a bad year, my mental state took a sharp decline. So much so that I ended up spending time in the hospital. When I was released, I was left wondering what I was going to do to try and continue my path to wellness. I had already tried to go through my primary care physician, multiple therapists, and online counseling, none of which had seem to made a lasting impact.
I remember seeing an ad as I was scrolling through Facebook for a few different online mental health services. I remember Cerebral catching my attention because they had a special going on, where your first month of meds and counseling only cost $25. Every subsequent month would then cost $99 after that. I decided to give them a chance because my boyfriend had seemed to have good results with them and so I figured why not try it?
How Does it Work?
Cerebral fortunately has a website (getcerebral.com) and a mobile app which makes it easy to access. You can sign up with an email or social media account. From there, you fill out your basic information, and then you take an assessment which gauges your levels of depression, anxiety, and insomnia. After this you receive a phone call from a provider who helps determine your treatment plan. Depending on your budget and needs, you can select to either have only medication, only therapy, medication plus therapy, or medicine plus care counseling. I chose medicine plus care counseling as it was going to cost $99 per month and would offer me the most help for the lowest possible price.
After you submit your payment information, you get to handpick your counselor and provider from a plethora of options depending on what state you live in. This flexibility is something I very much enjoyed because you are in control of deciding what you think is best for you. After speaking with the provider, my medicine order was submitted and within 5 days was at my doorstep. The cool thing is that your medications are automatically refilled and sent out to you so there is no hassle with trying to refill them yourself.
The other step is to have your first care counseling session. These are monthly, but you can also message your counselor as frequently as you wish via the app or website. I just had my first session with this counselor a few days ago which went quite well. She was very kind, understanding, compassionate, listened to my needs, and was very helpful. Together we were able to set some goals for me to try and attain for next month.
Is it Better Than Other Methods?
My answer to this question is a resounding yes. Over the past 5 years in which my pursuit for mental wellness began, I have seen multiple doctors, therapists, counselors, and tried many different medications. Even with having decent health insurance, just one session of therapy can cost well over $100! There was a counseling service I tried called Betterhelp. That service only provides counseling and unfortunately both counselors I have had ended up unexpectedly leaving the service, thus leaving me out in the cold to handle my issues. But I digress.
What are the Limitations?
There are few limitations with this service. For example, controlled substances such as Xanax usually cannot be prescribed to you unless 1) your state is licensed to do so and 2) your provider determines you need one of these medications. The other limitation is who they can treat. Their website currently says Cerebral is not a good fit for those who have suicidal ideation, schizophrenia, substance abuse issues, and those who are pregnant or nursing. These do seem reasonable, however it can make it difficult for those groups of people to get help.
The Lasting Impact
Cerebral has no doubt made a lasting impact on my life as it has been the cheapest, most effective, and helpful service that I have used so far. I honestly do not know where I would be without it. The medications allow me to be able to function in my normal daily life, while the counseling allows me to try and stay on a path to practicing self-care. I highly recommend this service if you are experiencing issues with depression, anxiety, or insomnia.