Mental health concerns as thousands of young people seek help for loneliness during COVID-19

21 May 2020

ReachOut is responding to young people’s changing COVID-19 needs to address mental health and suicide risk. 

  • 50 per cent year on year spike in the number of people seeking help from ReachOut’s digital youth mental health service to deal with loneliness during the pandemic.
  • Since 16 March ReachOut’s online support for isolation and loneliness has been accessed more than 17,000 times – one person every five minutes.
  • More than 80,000 people have accessed ReachOut’s services since 16 March – 10 people every minute. 
  • An increase in loneliness is a possible indicator of mental health risk. 

New data shows a 50 per cent spike in the number of people seeking help from ReachOut’s digital youth mental health service to deal with loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the same time last year.

From 16 March – 17 May 2020, ReachOut’s online information and support for isolation and loneliness was accessed more than 17,000 times – that’s one person every five minutes. ReachOut is responding to young people’s changing mental health needs during COVID-19 by launching new digital resources for young people when it comes to dealing with isolation and loneliness to address potential mental health and suicide risks. 

A ReachOut survey* of more than 1400 young people conducted in January 2020, before COVID-19 restrictions were put in place, found that around one in five reported feeling lonely most of the time or always. Almost half of those who were experiencing loneliness reported that it had a moderate to major impact on their wellbeing. The survey also found that the most common place young people felt lonely was at home.

CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva, said that COVID-19 restrictions had exacerbated feelings of loneliness for young Australians and were causing a high level of distress for some people prompting the digital mental health support service to provide more resources. An increase in loneliness is also a possible indicator of mental health risk. 

“Loneliness was a significant issue for young people before COVID-19 and the new service data shows the problem has grown since distancing restrictions were put in place to manage the Coronavirus. The issue of loneliness is also a key theme being discussed by young people in our peer support forums.

“The data is concerning because research shows that loneliness can be both a precursor to mental health difficulties and can exacerbate existing mental health difficulties.

“Services like ReachOut, which are designed for and with young people to reflect their lives and lived experiences, are an essential part of the early intervention and prevention response.

More than 80,000 people have accessed ReachOut’s services since restriction measures were put in place – that’s 10 people every minute. It‘s encouraging to see so many young people and parents engaging with support right now – we’ll continue to use our service data, forum themes and focus group research to respond to their changing mental health needs.

“We want young people to know that it’s important to continue to seek out connection. You can come to any time of the day or night, to find help right now and to connect to an online support crew on our peer-support forums. This is a supportive and anonymous space where you can hear from young people who care about what’s happening for you because they’ve been there too.”

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ReachOut relies on the financial support of the community to provide our services. Donate now to help ReachOut continue this vital work. 

*Nationally representative survey sample of 1485 young people aged 14–25 years. Data collection conducted by ReachOut in January 2020. 

Media contact
Tessa Anderssen
0411 708 587

Available for interview:

  • CEO of ReachOut Ashley de Silva
  • Case studies 


  • Get active – going for a walk or run with another person can be a great no-pressure way to connect.
  • Challenge yourself – make plans to socialise in a physically distanced way at least once a week. 
  • Write it down – writing is a great way to battle loneliness and get a clearer idea of where your head’s at. 
  • Jump online – head to ReachOut’s Peer-support Forums, a supportive and anonymous space to share what you’re going through
  • Get some support – reach out to a mate or family member and don’t be afraid to seek professional help.