ReachOut has created a ‘digital’ care package to help young people living in drought-affected communities deal with the pressures of one of the worst droughts Australia has seen in the past century.

The ‘digital’ care package can be accessed by young people for free, any time using a smart phone, tablet or computer without the need to leave their farm or local area by visiting ReachOut.com/Drought.

The ‘digital’ care package includes real stories from young people living in drought-affected areas, tips for coping with stress, advice about where to go to find extra help, and much more. It has been designed to help young people check in with how they’re feeling, and manage reactions such as stress and depression.

ReachOut’s online peer support forums are also available so that young people living in drought-affected areas can connect and share with others.

The ‘digital’ drought care package was created in response to research showing that economic crisis faced by farming communities can directly impact teenagers by raising uncertainty over their future and self-identity.* This is on top of the fact that young people in rural communities are particularly vulnerable when it comes to mental health challenges.**

ReachOut’s work is part of the Australian Government’s Drought Support Package and we are proud to be working with the Government as a mental health partner and to support communities.

CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva said young people aren’t immune to the stress of drought – whether it’s worrying about family members, their community, the future, money and even feelings of loss.

“This is ReachOut’s first ‘digital’ care package, especially designed to offer support to young people in drought-affected areas. This brand-new content will help young people to check in on how they’re feeling and take steps to manage the emotional toll of the drought.

“We’ve created these online resources because we know the drought is placing a huge amount of stress on young people in these communities.

“We will build on these resources and offer further support over the coming months. ReachOut is there for young people in these communities for as long as it takes,” he said.

ReachOut is encouraging young people affected by drought to look out for themselves and their friends. Signs that might indicate the drought is having an impact on someone’s mental health, include:

  • headaches, poor sleep, changes in eating habits
  • always tired, or lack energy or motivation
  • anger or irritability
  • increased levels of worry or nervousness
  • feeling down or depressed often
  • forgetfulness
  • increased alcohol or drug use

Support for teenagers from their parents during tough times such as drought is vital. Parents can visit ReachOut Parents for articles, real life stories, parenting forums and free one-on-one support ReachOut.com/DroughtSupport.

ReachOut’s digital drought care package builds on ReachOut’s extensive online resources, which provide young people with information and tools to help them cope with whatever life throws at them.

*Dean, J.G. and Stain, H.J., 2010. Mental health impact for adolescents living with prolonged drought. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 18(1), pp.32-37.

**Austin, E.K., Handley, T., Kiem, A.S., Rich, J.L., Lewin, T.J., Askland, H.H., Askarimarnani, S.S., Perkins, D.A. and Kelly, B.J., 2018. Drought-related stress among farmers: findings from the Australian Rural Mental Health Study. The Medical Journal of Australia, 209(4), p.1.

ENDS

Note to Editors

Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut and a number of young people living in drought-affected areas are available for interview.  

About ReachOut

ReachOut has been changing the way people access help since launching as the world’s first online mental health service nearly 20 years ago. Everything they create is based on the latest evidence and designed with experts, and young people or their parents. This is why ReachOut’s digital self-help tools are trusted, relevant and easy to use. Available for free anytime and pretty much anywhere, ReachOut is accessed by 132,000 people in Australia every month. That’s more than 1.58 million each year.

Media contact

Tessa Anderssen / [email protected] / 0411 708 587

 

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