Kaiser or Cigna for teen struggling with depression?

Hi my org is about to start open enrollment and I have the option of changing my insurance from Cigna to Kaiser. My 15 yr old struggles with anxiety and depression and we had a few visits to the ER last year for suicidal ideation. He currently is on meds and those and his psychiatrist visits are covered by Cigna (and we don't love the psychiatrist anyway) but none of the other stuff I've found useful have been--DBT parenting for me, none of the therapists we've connected with have been in network (and my teen won't go rn anyway). I know Kaiser isn't the best for mental health but I'm wondering if we might have more options that are covered, especially if we need some kind of outpatient care or groups. I could also witch to Cigna PPO. Any thoughts?

Parent Replies

New responses are no longer being accepted.

I wouldn't recommend switching to Kaiser. I have a 16-year-old who struggles with anxiety and depression--there was some suicidal ideation about a year ago, and even so, getting mental health services from Kaiser has been a complete wild goose chase. (Both at Kaiser Oakland and Kaiser Richmond.) If you're not happy with the therapist you're seeing, maybe switch to Cigna PPO. I wish you all the best!

As you probably know the Kaiser psych dept has gone on strike a couple of times in part because of the poor services they are forced to provide due to not enough staff. My son does have a psychiatrist and a therapist he likes there, but he can only see the therapist about once a month and sometimes it's canceled. At one point they gave us an authorization for outside therapy, but of the long list of therapists on the network they use, only 1 was taking (kaiser) patients and he wasn't a good fit for my son. We must have made 50 calls. Kaiser does have groups, including some really good parenting groups and groups for teens with various issues, and my partner gets CBT there, but your teen will probably not be able to get one-on-one therapy more frequently than once a month.

I hope your family gets the help you need. Kaiser will not be great if one of the things you want is weekly therapy; they basically don’t provide it, but can refer you out to either Beacon or Magellan, both of which are sadly very poor.  However, Kaiser does have lots of groups, I think I recall a DBT group for teens when we visited the child psychiatry arm of things. The psychiatrists are mostly very good.  You will very likely find more than one group he or you would benefit from; their “model” seems to be group therapy. If I’m not mistaken you can find their behavioral health groups listed online (don’t have to be a member to view them, but would to enroll). Best of luck. 

We don't get great feedback about Kaiser. You might want to talk with a insurance advocate in the mental health industry who can answer some questons for you should at one point you need to look at a higher level of care for your teen. 

      Karen Fessel and Staff at

925) 388-0892

info [at] autismhealthinsurance.org

Jan Rao


You also might try Wise Mind Institute in Berkeley. They are really doing some outstanding work with DBT and RO DBT.  You might want to speak with Wes Pederson in the Redwood City office first. I just attended a presentation he did. It was awesome.

Berkeley Office
1010 Grayson St
Suite 3You 
Berkeley, CA 94710
phone: 650-503-8179
fax: 650-679-8052

Jan Rao