ReachOut’s research and program evaluations have shown we are effective in helping young people to understand and deal with issues, to connect with others and feel less alone, and to feel more positive about themselves.
ReachOut is undertaking a program of impact studies to demonstrate that the service also improves young people’s mental health and wellbeing. A Measurable Impact is the first study in this series.
An independently peer-reviewed study that explores how young Australians engage with ReachOut and how the service has impacted their mental health, A Measurable Impact presents the findings of a longitudinal study that surveyed approximately 2000 ReachOut users aged 16–25 over a three-month period. The study 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 per cent of participants rated their overall experience of ReachOut as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’
- 82 per cent of participants agreed that ReachOut is relevant
- 87.7 per cent of participants said it was available and accessible.
ReachOut helped users by improving their understanding of their own 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.
A second longitudinal study – the Check-In Study – was launched in late 2019 to explore in greater detail the mental health impact of our service for the young people who use it.
We’re following a cohort of over 300 young people for a period of three months and checking in with them weekly to learn about their lived experience of mental health issues and their use of ReachOut, to see how their wellbeing is tracking over time. We’re collecting their onsite browsing data, so that we can connect their use of ReachOut with their mental health outcomes and better understand what works, and for whom. The study was co-designed with young people and academics from the University of Western Sydney, the Australian National University and the University of Sydney.
Evaluation of ReachOut.com, an Unstructured Digital Youth Mental Health Intervention: Prospective Cohort Study
Authors: Bianca Lorraine Kahl, BA; Hilary May Miller, MPH; Kathryn Cairns, PhD; Hayley Giniunas, BA; Mariesa Nicholas, BA
Publication: Journal of Medical Internet Research
Young people are at the heart of everything we do.
"If I never found the ReachOut Forums, I genuinely don't know whether I'd be here today."
"The school had counsellors ... but I didn't find the counselling helpful ... I was looking for somewhere to go, and I found the ReachOut Forums."