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BetterHelp vs. Lyra ⚖️ Which One Is Better?

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As mental health awareness is growing, so is the number of people seeking treatment. For people who cannot access traditional in-person therapy or do not want to for whatever reason, there are services that offer therapy and mental health care online. These services have been around for many years but became even more popular during the pandemic when in-person therapy was out of reach for many.

One of the biggest and most well-known sites providing therapy online is BetterHelp, which connects people with licensed therapists. However, it is far from the only player in the game. Lyra Health is another popular site providing mental health care virtually to people. If you are deciding which one to try out first, here is a comparison between the two.

BetterHelp vs. Lyra ⚖️ Which One Is Better?

What Is BetterHelp?

BetterHelp is a massive service that connects people to licensed therapists with online meetings. Patients pay a flat weekly or monthly fee, which is usually about $60–$90 a week. With this fee, patients have access to one meeting with their therapist per week, which is conducted via live text, phone call, or video call. Outside of their meeting hours, patients have the option to talk to their therapists via text 24/7, although the therapist responds on their own time.

One of BetterHelp’s innovations is the usage of the algorithm to connect people to potential therapists, eliminating one of the biggest stressors of getting into therapy, which is finding the right therapist. Patients fill out a questionnaire when signing up for the site, taking into account everything from demographic information to treatment preferences, then are matched to a therapist. Although they can’t choose their own therapists like they can on some other apps, BetterHelp patients can request a new one if their original therapist doesn’t work out for whatever reason.

BetterHelp is one of the biggest online mental health platforms with a large selection of qualified therapists. That means patients can receive treatment for a wide range of mental health conditions, including more complex problems such as anger management. However, BetterHelp cannot prescribe medication. 

Besides therapy, patients who sign up for BetterHelp receive access to group therapy and dozens of downloadable worksheets to coach patients through developing their own skills to manage their mental health.

What Is Lyra?

Lyra, or Lyra Health as its full name says, is a company that specializes in offering mental health care to the employees of other companies. Companies sign up with Lyra, and then their employees and families can access care through the platform. Recently, the company expanded to include an option for people whose companies have not signed up with Lyra yet to make an account, although they will have to pay out of pocket.

The intake process at Lyra is similar to that of BetterHelp. People sign up, fill out a questionnaire about their mental health needs, and then Lyra suggests which treatment options and personnel might fit their needs. 

One big difference between Lyra and BetterHelp is the expansive nature of Lyra’s services. Besides providing individual therapy for a range of mental health issues, Lyra also offers an option for guided self-care when people follow self-paced courses to learn coping mechanisms with the support of coaches. People can also work directly with life coaches, licensed therapists, and psychiatrists who can prescribe medication for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.

The modes of communication Lyra has available to patients are similar to BetterHelp. You can chat, call, or video call your coach or therapist. However, Lyra also has an in-person option where it can help you find a therapist within their network that is near you if you prefer to chat in person. That means Lyra is in a better position to provide acute care, while BetterHelp says if people are experiencing severe mental health distress that makes them a danger to themselves or others, they should not use the platform.

Key Differences

Although the principle of these sites is the same, there are a few key differences in how they work.

Services Offered

Both offer online therapy, but the services they offer vary slightly. Lyra offers behavioral coaching as well as therapy. Lyra also has the option of meeting with a psychiatrist to get medication prescriptions or even meeting in person.

Session Limits

While BetterHelp allows patients to meet with therapists for as long as they need (and as long as they are willing to pay for), most employers only cover meeting with a therapist through Lyra for 20 sessions.

Self-Guided Components

BetterHelp has many worksheets for people to go through, but Lyra offers much more in the way of self-guided mental health care. Patients can opt for a self-guided coaching program instead of traditional therapy, and the platform also offers many free resources and even a partnership with Calm, the popular meditation app.

How You Sign Up for Services

Lyra is primarily a workplace mental health platform, although it has started expanding into offering people the opportunity to sign up without going through a workplace. Meanwhile, you sign up for BetterHelp on your own.

Advantages and Disadvantages of BetterHelp

BetterHelp is one of the biggest players in the business, but it still has some weak spots that make other services a better choice in some situations. Here are the pros and cons of using BetterHelp.

Pros of Using BetterHelp

One of the pros of using BetterHelp is its focus on building supportive relationships that last between clients and therapists. It mimics real, in-person therapy because you are matched with a therapist, see them once a week, and build a relationship with them that lasts as long as you use BetterHelp or until you request a new therapist.

BetterHelp also offers flexible options if therapy is not enough for you. You can attend group therapy sessions and use worksheets to manage your own mental health. 

Finally, BetterHelp offers protections in place for patients who are in need of mental health support but are concerned about privacy. You have the option of signing up for an account anonymously and not disclosing any identifying information to your therapist, which can be liberating for patients who are worried about stigma or about being discovered. You also don’t have to sign up for BetterHelp through an employer, which is a concern for some people.

Cons of Using BetterHelp

One of the biggest drawbacks of using BetterHelp is its cost. BetterHelp does not accept insurance and only rarely partners with employers. Most people pay hundreds of dollars per month for BetterHelp coverage (although that doesn’t make it any more expensive than out-of-network in-person therapists). While the company does offer financial aid, the application process does not guarantee it for everyone who needs it.

While BetterHelp offers comprehensive therapy, it is limited in some ways. Patients cannot get prescriptions for medication through the service, which is a necessity for many as they struggle to manage their mental health. BetterHelp also does not offer family therapy or therapy for children, although it has a separate offshoot that specializes in providing therapy to teenagers.

Advantages or Disadvantages of Lyra

Lyra Health is a great workplace benefit you should use if you can, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of the platform that can help you make an informed decision.

Pros of Lyra

One advantage Lyra has over most online therapy platforms is the comprehensive nature of its service. Besides online therapy, people can opt for behavioral health coaching. In fact, one of the major services Lyra touts is its self-guided coaching program that helps people become more productive employees if that is what they are turning to Lyra for. Lyra also offers more resources for self-guided mental health work.

For more serious mental health issues, Lyra offers medication and in-person therapy services, which also puts it in a position to provide acute mental health care for people in distress that a platform that only relies on online therapy cannot. 

Lyra also offers more comprehensive international coverage than BetterHelp, making it a better option for accessing mental health care if your workplace offers it and you do not live in the United States. 

If you are data-minded, Lyra is a great option because the company uses data and hard scientific evidence to develop its programs, from its behavioral coaching to the self-guided courses. Even if you are not working with a trained therapist, you can rest secure in the knowledge that you are receiving the best care available to you according to science. 

Lyra’s position as a workplace mental health provider makes it more affordable to people, although that also comes with some disadvantages (more on that later).

Cons of Lyra

Although one of the main advantages of Lyra is that it is offered through a workplace, making it more accessible, that is also a disadvantage for some. Due to its position as a workplace mental health provider, Lyra has come under fire for focusing on productivity instead of helping people become healthier overall.

The workplace connection has also led to concerns about privacy. Lyra came under fire for sharing data with the employers it partners with, although the company claims it was all anonymized and it did not share patient records. If you are nervous about your workplace finding out about the extent of your mental health challenges, Lyra may not be the best option for you. 

Although Lyra offers comprehensive mental health care, this care is not accessible to people for as long as they need it. Instead, most workplaces limit Lyra coverage to a maximum of 20 sessions. That makes it harder to work through lasting mental health challenges, especially since building the necessary trust with a therapist to do more challenging work, such as unpacking trauma, takes time. 

Therapists who have worked for Lyra have also complained about feeling rushed by the company to finish with people after a few sessions to provide data proving the person is “fixed,” even when real therapy work does not stick to a schedule demanded by profit motives.

BetterHelp vs. Lyra: Which Is Better?

Before getting into which platform is better, here is a comparison of the two so you can see their comparative advantages and disadvantages.

BetterHelpLyraWhich Is Better?
Therapy StructureOnce a week sessions via video, call, or text, plus unlimited textOnce a week sessionsThe same 
In-person option?NoYesLyra
Offers medication?NoYes, for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorderLyra
Offers other services besides therapy?Group therapy sessions and some worksheetsSelf-guided courses, behavioral coaching, and comprehensive free resources, including a meditation app partnershipLyra
Offers an anonymous option?YesNoBetterHelp
International coverage?SomeYes, in over 200 countries, according to its websiteLyra
Session limits?NoMost workplaces only cover 20 sessionsBetterHelp
Offered through a workplace?RarelyThe most frequent way people are referred to the service is through a workplaceDepends: if your concern is affordability, Lyra. If your concern is privacy, BetterHelp. 
Price$240–$360 per month$0 if through a workplace, $90 per session if signing up individuallyLyra

If your workplace offers Lyra, it is a great resource to help manage your mental health. In many ways, it is superior to BetterHelp. It offers more comprehensive services, including psychiatry and in-person therapy. You also access many more resources for learning to manage your mental health on your own. If your main reason for signing up for mental health care is becoming more productive or changing your habits, Lyra will help you get much closer to reaching your goals.

Final Words

Although Lyra’s position as a workplace mental health resource makes it more accessible, it also comes with many drawbacks. It allows your employer control over your mental health access since most cap sessions are at a maximum of 20, and there have been privacy concerns about Lyra’s relationship with its workplace partners.

If you are concerned about privacy, BetterHelp is the much better option. If your workplace doesn’t offer Lyra, it might be worth signing up for BetterHelp anyway and applying for financial aid if you need it.

Sources

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