A recent study has revealed young people rely on online help for mental health issues over professional help.
This national survey was conducted by Inspire Foundation, a mental health organization for youth. This survey questioned 3600 people under 25 years of age. This survey looked at who uses ReachOut.com and why they use it. It also reveals whether the viewers feel that this website has helped improve their mental health or if it has changed their attitude to seeking help. The outcomes of this cross-sectional study are as follows.
Around 75% of these participants were experiencing a high level of psychological distress (measured by K10 scale) when they visited the organization’s official website, ReachOut.com. 60% of these participants never considered opting for professional help for their problems.
This figure is much higher than that observed for general population surveys which revealed 9% people suffering from psychological distress.
The national profiling survey also identified that most of the site users with an average age of 16.8 years sought information available on the website from various fact sheets and stories available. The most popular topics were mental health, mood disorders, safety and violence, workplace bullying, Alcohol and other drugs.
Jonathan Nicolas, CEO of Inspire Foundation said that its convenient for young people to have an anonymous source of information that they can access at anytime they want and the internet fulfils the criteria.
He said, “That is why it is so important that young people have a place to go that they can trust, that is anonymous and non-confronting, and available to them whenever they need it, at any time of the day or night,”
“Asking for help may feel uncomfortable, or they may not know where to find help or what to expect from the range of services that are out there.”
A 22 year old girl who used this website said, “It took a long time, but by posting online I found the encouragement and confidence I needed to seek face-to-face support. I eventually went to see my GP and she referred me to other health professionals who have helped me overcome the terrible depression and anxiety I felt for most of my teenage years.”
Nicholas also adds, “Young people sometimes may not recognise that they need help”.
He pointed out another interesting fact. Although the website was the first source that most young people accessed, 41% of those who visited the website were more willing to seek professional help like a therapist or counsellor after seeking online help.
The anonymous help is resourceful for those who are marginalized by the society like those residing in rural areas. 29% of the survey’s participants came from rural areas or regional areas of Australia.
Significantly, one quarter (24%) of the website’s viewers identified their sexuality as gay, lesbians, transgender, bisexuals, queers or others which further proves this statement.
91% of the young people who reported visiting the website during a “tough time” said that it provided them the information that they needed. 72% of the visitors actually reported that the website helped than with the issue that they were experiencing.
photo credit: Ed Yourdon