ReachOut Australiahas today launched the results of the largest study it has ever conducted, revealing the mental health benefits of the service.
A measurable impact: Helping young people to be and stay well is an independently peer-reviewed study that explores how young Australians engage with ReachOut and how the service impacted their mental health. The findings of the study, which surveyed approximately 2000 ReachOut users aged 16 to 25 years over a three-month period, showed:
- an improvement in mental health, including a significant reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress*
- reduced suicide risk**
- an increase in help-seeking behaviour***
- 90.95% of participants rated their overall experience of ReachOut as 'good' or 'excellent'
- 82% of participants agreed that ReachOut is relevant
- 86.7% said it was available and accessible.
ReachOut helped users by improving their understanding of their experiences of mental health and wellbeing, as well as the experiences of others. It also provided practical strategies and tools to support their mental health, connected them with others, and made them feel more positive about themselves.
Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut said that with the explosion of digital mental health programs, apps and tools, it has never been more important to understand whether digital services are improving the mental health of young people.
This study builds on our body of existing research and confirms the meaningful impact of the work we do at ReachOut. Young people using ReachOut experienced a significant reduction in their symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. We also saw a reduction in the proportion of young people at high risk of suicide. Encouragingly, there was also an increase in help-seeking behaviour.
The growing burden of mental ill-health in Australia's young people deserves our urgent attention. Now and for the future, digital services like ReachOut must be available to support young people get the help they need to be well and stay well. For us, this also means remaining committed to ongoing service development and evaluation so that we can continue to respond to the needs of young people, he said.
* Participants completed the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) three times over the course of three months.
** There was a significant reduction in the proportion of participants who were at high risk of suicide over the three-month period of the study, with a decrease from 12.3 per cent at baseline to 8.6 per cent of participants by the three-month follow-up.
*** Participants who were experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or stress and who had not sought help within the threemonths prior to the study, with 11.6 per cent going on to seek help from a mental health professional, and an additional 5.7 per cent seeing a doctor or GP. 53.3% of all participants sought help from a friend and 35.6% sought help from a parent.
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ReachOut is the most accessed online mental health service for young people and their parents in Australia. Their trusted self-help information, peer-support program and referral tools save lives by helping young people be well and stay well. The information they offer parents makes it easier for them to help their teenagers, too.
ReachOut has been championing wider access to mental health support since they launched their online service more than 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and is designed with experts, and young people or their parents. That's why ReachOut is a trusted, relevant service that's so easy to use.
Accessed by more than 2 million people in Australia each year, ReachOut is a free service that's available anytime and pretty much anywhere.