A study published in the Washington Post last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic found that, for every 100 American adults, 34 showed signs of anxiety, depression, or both. That study shook me, to be completely honest. A third of Americans are experiencing these mental health disorders!
What’s even more shocking and concerning is that the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that between 30 and 80% of people with mental health issues don’t seek treatment. Why is this when the American Psychiatry Association (APA) has reported that anxiety orders are very treatable?
The answer, for many, is that they are either experiencing resistance to treatment due to the stigma around mental health issues and/or they simply cannot afford or don’t have access to quality mental health care.
Thankfully, companies like Prairie Health have recognized the giant need in American society for more and better care when it comes to anxiety and depression. Without ever needing to leave their home, members can get access to experienced psychiatrists, care counselors, and genetic testing that can help them to get back to feeling like themselves, without all the excessive costs, red tape, and societal stigma that are all too common in the mental health space.
So, the question is, could DNA testing be the key to overcoming anxiety and depression more effectively?
What is Prairie Health?
Prairie Health is an online mental health subscription that provides members with personalized anxiety and depression treatment, support, and medication management for one low, flat monthly fee of $99. The company connects members with expert psychiatrists and Care Partners to allow for individualized treatment plans and continuous support. A differentiating factor between Prairie Health and its competition is its use of genetic testing to better inform their prescription and treatment decisions.
I had the pleasure of speaking with one of Prairie’s co-founders who explained that it was personal experiences with mental health disorders that inspired the idea to make a change. Whether we know it or not, based on the statistics, we all know someone who has or is dealing with a mental health issue. The founders of Prairie Health, having watched first-hand, people close to them deal with the shortcomings and inadequacies of traditional mental healthcare, set out to make mental healthcare more accessible and effective for everyone.
Ongoing texting support
Who is Prairie Health For?
Prairie Health is for adults age 18 or older with a suspected or known mental health condition like anxiety or depression. Currently, Prairie Health is only available in the state of California, however, they are working on expanding into the rest of the states soon, so be sure to check back frequently for updates.
This telemedicine service is not for those who have been diagnosed with a severe mental health condition or who have recently experience suicidal ideation (please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 if this pertains to you).
What Conditions Does Prairie Treat?
Prairie works with a team of dedicated psychiatrists that specializes in the treatment of anxiety and depression, the two most common mental health disorders.
How Does Prairie Health Work and What Makes It Unique?
DNA Testing For Every Member
Prairie Health stands out in the crowd of telemedicine companies thanks to a few things. First, they run a free genetic test on all members as part of their onboarding process. Why? Because research shows that 90% of people have genes that can be examined by a medical professional and used to create more effective treatment plans. Treating anxiety and depression without a gene analysis increases the likelihood that you’ll experience side effects from the medication(s) prescribed by your doctor simply because your genetic makeup has a lot to do with how you react and respond to certain medications.
Prairie Health’s founders, fueled by personal experience with this phenomenon, decided to include saliva-based DNA testing for all of their members to help mitigate the risk of side effects. When it comes to our bodies and our mental health, we shouldn’t be “throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks,” so to speak. DNA testing helps to reduce the guesswork in psychiatric prescriptions.
All Psychiatrist Staff
Furthermore, Prairie Health distinguishes itself by connecting its members with board-certified psychiatrists, not generalists or nurse practitioners like many other telemedicine platforms do. Prairie connects each member to a highly-trained psychiatrist who specializes in diagnosing and treating anxiety and depression. They can even prescribe you medication (based on your DNA testing) and have it shipped right to your door.
Professional Care Management
In addition to the professional care you’ll receive from your board-certified psychiatrist, you’ll also be assigned a Care Partner who will be there to help you every step of the way. Your Care Partner will be matched to you at the beginning of your journey and will then become your primary point of contact throughout your treatment. Prairie likes to say that their members come for the medication but stay for the experience with their Care Partner.
Integration With The Healthcare Ecosystem
Prairie wants you to get the best healthcare all around, not just the best mental healthcare. Their Care Partners coordinate with your other healthcare providers to ensure you get the best overall experience possible. Because Prairie specializes in prescribing medications and not providing therapy, they connect their members to quality therapists in their network. They don’t believe in trying to upsell their members on their own services, rather they focus on what they do best and refer them to outside providers for the rest. This model creates more trust with their members and strong relationships with other providers.
Getting Started With Prairie Health
Getting started with Prairie is very straightforward, convenient, and discreet. Here’s what the process looks like:
Click the “Get Started” button located at the top right of Prairie’s website.
Fill in a quick intake form that will help the team better understand your mental health.
You will be matched with a Care Partner who will get in touch with you to schedule an initial call where you’ll dive deeper into your symptoms.
A welcome box will be shipped to your door which will include your saliva-based DNA test kit in discreet packaging.
Your results will be analyzed and your psychiatrist will be in touch with you to discuss your medication options. If a medication is required, they will write you a prescription and have it sent directly to your door (in discreet packaging).
Your care doesn’t stop there! You’ll have unlimited access to your Care Partner via messaging and can expect to meet with your Care Partner and Psychiatrist on a monthly basis via phone or video chat for continued care.
Frequently Asked Questions About Prairie Health
Prairie Health costs $99 per month plus a $15 copay per month, per medication. This flat-fee pricing model helps to keep your cost at a minimum while getting the best possible care. Comparing Prairie’s fee to that of an in-person professional and the cost of medication trial and error, and you would be likely at a significantly higher investment.
No, at this time, Prairie Health does not accept health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. Members are responsible for paying the $99 monthly fee out of pocket. The good news is that member can use their health insurance to cover the cost of the medication copay if they choose to opt-out of medication delivery and use their own pharmacy. However, many find that Prairie’s copay is more affordable than the one associated with their own insurance. Be sure to do your research to ensure you’re getting the best coverage at the best price.
Not everyone with anxiety and/or depression will require medication, however, it’s important to note that studies show that 40-60% of people taking antidepressants noticed an improvement in their symptoms within 6-8 weeks.When working with Prairie, you’ll meet with a board-certified psychiatrist and review your genetics to find out if medication(s) makes sense for your specific situation and needs. You can feel confident in Prairie’s mission to "leverage research and technology to empower everyone to achieve better mental health." The team truly wants to make sure that each of its members is actually getting better.
Once assigned, your Care Partner is available for you anytime you have a question or need some assistance between your monthly appointments. Monthly appointments with your Care Partner happen over video or phone and give you the opportunity to get more in-depth support along your mental health journey.
Should you need to get in contact with your Care Partner between your monthly meetings, you can message them at any time. Your Care Partner will respond within 3 hours during business days between 9 am to 9 pm PST and by the end of the day on weekends. The support you need is always available.
Included in your Prairie Health subscription is:
- Your welcome box includes your genetic test and instructions for submission.
- Regularly scheduled appointments with your psychiatrist.
- Monthly appointments with your personal Care Partner and unlimited messaging in between.
- Medications are sent directly to your door in discreet packaging, should you need them.
Prairie Health tests your genetics because research shows that different genes reveal different responses to medication. By analyzing your genes, Prairie’s psychiatrists are able to provide personalized dosing decisions and medication recommendations that can help you to avoid adverse side effects and minimize the trial and error that’s so common in the mental health world. Prairie has a wonderful resource on their blog that talks all about Genetic Testing With Prairie and can be a great resource for more information on the why and the how.
Is Prairie Worth It?
As consumers, the number one question we all want to answer before making a decision is whether or not the product or service is worth the cost; is the juice worth the squeeze? In the case of Prairie Health, the answer is an absolute, yes.
Joining Prairie gives members a huge advantage over using a competitor thanks to the inclusion of free genetic testing that allows for more tailored treatment that can end up saving a lot of time, money, and unwanted side effects. Using science, Prairie is able to analyze your genetic makeup to create a more refined list of potential medications that will work best for your needs. Understanding your genes by using a simple DNA test can change your entire experience with anxiety and depression treatment.
In addition to the DNA testing that helps reduce your chances of experiencing medication side effects, you can also take comfort in knowing that you’re being treated by a board-certified psychiatrist. Not only that, but you’ll have the opportunity to meet with your psychiatrist to determine the best path to help get you feeling your best. This differs from other telehealth platforms that use a middle man to relay information between the member and the Dr.
Lastly, Prairie Health proves its worthiness by providing consistent, convenient care that you just cannot get from other platforms. Between your dedicated Care Provider who is there to support you and answer your questions any time they arise, to discreetly delivered medications that come right to your doorstep, it’s clear that the team at Prairie is member-driven and has a real passion for improving the lives of others. By taking the stigma, shame, and inconvenience out of mental health care, they are encouraging more people to get the help and support they need to live their most fulfilling lives.
Prairie Health Reviews: What are members saying about their DNA-tailored treatment?
When analyzing a company, I always like to take a look around the internet to see if I can dig up some reviews to see what others are saying about the service. Prairie Health reviews are slim right now, likely due to the fact that it’s a fairly new service and that they are only available in CA right now. I have no doubt that as they grow and expand, more information will be published to support their legitimacy and effectiveness.
That said, of the reviews I did find, almost all of them were glowing. Folks who have used Prairie are highly complimentary of their innovative approach to telemedicine and the treatment of depression and anxiety. Customers also appreciate the flat $99 monthly fee and the dedicated support from their Care Partner.
One thing that is important to note is that Prairie, unlike some of its competitors, does not offer therapy as a service. So while you do have the support of your psychiatrist and your Care Partner, you will need to go elsewhere if you want therapy in addition to your medications. The great news is that the Prairie team can actually help you find the right therapy provider by referring you to one of the providers in their network. They work closely with your other healthcare providers to make sure that you’re getting the best care possible.
Final Thoughts: Is Prairie’s DNA testing the answer to getting the right mental health medications?
After reading the research, speaking with one of Prairie’s co-founders, and reviewing its service, I am convinced that the genetic testing portion of Prarie’s service is a large part of what makes this telemedicine service worth it.
DNA testing allows for personalized treatment, which at the end of the day, is what we all want. No one wants to be a human guinea pig, trial and erroring a bunch of mental health medications and dealing with side effects until you finally find the one that works for you. Prairie does their best to mitigate these risks by implementing genetic testing that can paint a better picture of you, which in turn, allows them to choose a medication that actually works with your body.
Overall, the $99 monthly cost offers exceptional value to anyone who is suffering from depression and/or anxiety and needs discreet, convenient care that actually works. With your membership, you’ll get:
- Free DNA testing and peace of mind that you’re being prescribed medication that’s based on your genetic makeup.
- Regularly scheduled appointments with a board-certified psychologist.
- A dedicated Care Partner who is available to meet with you monthly and to answer your questions any time with unlimited chat.
- Discreet medication is delivered right to your door for just $15 per prescription.
If you need medication for the treatment of anxiety and/or depression, Prairie Health is revolutionizing the way we get these medications by offering a custom-tailored solution that’s based on your genetic makeup.