Online youth mental health organisation ReachOut said that the results of this year’s annual survey of 15-19 year olds confirm that young people are increasingly concerned about mental health, and that more needs to be done to ensure all young people who need help get it.

Speaking following the release of Mission Australia’s 2016 Youth Survey, ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said:

“For the first time this year, young people have nominated mental health as among their top three issues facing the nation, behind equity and discrimination and alcohol and drugs.”

“This may be a reflection of their own mental health issues or that of their peer groups or their family, and it may also be a result of increasing awareness of mental health in the community”

“We need to ensure that there are pathways for young people to get help if they need it and unfortunately we know that 70 per cent of young people who need mental health support don’t get it. That is just not good enough.

“We need to ask what are we doing that is making it difficult for our young people to access help when they need it.”

Mr Nicholas said that young people face a number of barriers to accessing traditional mental health services including negative attitudes towards help-seeking, cost, transport, waiting times, fear of breaches of confidentiality and a preference for self-reliance.

“Instead of asking young people to overcome all these barriers in order to get help, it makes more sense to deliver help to young people in a private, convenient, low-cost and timely setting via digital self-help.

“A trusted digital mental health service like ReachOut.com which is accessed by more than 1.5 million people per year means that young people can get help without having to worry about cost, transport or finding the time and waiting for an appointment. Digital self-help services can meet unlimited demand, are low-cost and available at any time of the day or night.

“We need to ensure that digital self-help services are fully integrated into the broader mental health services system.”

Other results include:

  • 44.4% of 15-19 year olds reported either being extremely concerned or very concerned about coping with stress
  • 37.8% were extremely or very concerned about school and study problems
  • 23.5% were extremely or very concerned about depression

“It’s worrying that nearly half of all young people report high levels of concern about coping with stress. While a bit of stress can be a good thing and motivate us to rise to a challenge, too much stress can be harmful and I think we need to consider the pressures we are placing on young people through the school environment.”

“These results also confirm that we also need to be equipping young people with skills to manage stress.”

Need to talk to someone right now?

National 24/7 crisis phone support for young people is available from Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), Suicide Callback Service (1300 659 467), and Lifeline (13 11 14).

Young people can turn to ReachOut.com from anywhere and at any time for free self-help tools, information, and a peer support forum.

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