ReachOut Australia, the digital mental health service for young people and their parents, today said that the Youth Mental Health Report released by Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute confirms that online services are an important part of the solution in helping more young people and that support for parents to help their young people is a priority.

The report found around 1 in 4 young people met the criteria for having a probable serious mental illness – a significant increase over the past five years; and young people with a probable serious mental illness reported they would go to friends (75%), parents (56%) and the internet (51%) as their top three sources of help.

Speaking in support of the report today, ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said, ‘The findings in this report are no surprise. Through our work at ReachOut we know there is a significant proportion of young people accessing our service in high levels of distress, often after hours, when primary care services are not available.’

Mr Nicholas said that the report found young people view the internet as a very important source of information and advice, especially for those with a probable mental illness.

‘A trusted digital service like ReachOut.com, which is accessed by more than 1.5 million people in Australia each year, means that young people can get help without having to worry about cost, transport, or finding the time and waiting for an appointment. Young people help us to design and test our services and tools, which means that ReachOut is relevant, engaging and more likely to be used.

The report also found that after friends, parents are the first place young people turn to for help.

‘We launched ReachOut Parents last year because we know that young people will turn to their parents for support,” Mr Nicholas said.

‘ReachOut Parents is a free online service that provides practical support and tips to encourage effective communication and relationships between parents and young people. With one in four teenagers experiencing mental illness, parents need to be equipped to respond when their teenagers come to them for help.’

‘This report and many others underscore the need for effective prevention and early intervention services targeting young people. We can’t wait until young people are in crisis to make help available – we must act early.’

ReachOut focuses on helping young people become more resilient and supports them to help themselves, while ReachOut Parents assists their families to be there with the right support when they need it.

‘When it comes to youth mental health we need to think differently. We have the opportunity to use technology to help more young people help themselves, to connect with people in hard-to-reach places, to intervene earlier, and most importantly to do this in a space where they feel comfortable.’

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