The National Survey 2012 has found that young people in distress look for help online rather than seek help from a mental health professional.

The cross-sectional study of more than 3,600 young people under 25 found that 75% of participants were experiencing high to very high levels of psychological distress at the time of visiting, yet the majority of them (60%) had never accessed professional help.

The survey looked at who uses, why they use it, whether they feel it has improved their mental health, and whether it has changed their attitude to seeking help.

Jonathan Nicholas, Chief Executive Officer of the Inspire Foundation, said, “Young people sometimes may not recognise that they need help. Asking for help may feel uncomfortable, or they may not know where to find help or what to expect from the range of services that are out there.”

 “That is why it is so important that young people have a place to go that they can trust, that is anonymous and non-confronting, and available to them whenever they need it, at any time of the day or night,” said Nicholas.

After visiting, 41% of young people said that they were more likely to seek help from a mental health professional, such as a counsellor or therapist.

A 22-year-old girl using said, “It took a long time, but by posting online I found the encouragement and confidence I needed to seek face-to-face support. I eventually went to see my GP and she referred me to other health professionals who have helped me overcome the terrible depression and anxiety I felt for most of my teenage years.”

Anonymous support is particularly important for young people who are marginalised, such as those living in rural areas where services are limited, or those who are questioning their sexuality or gender identity. Young people identifying as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, intersex) constitute almost a quarter of all users.

The survey highlights the importance of in reaching young people with unmet mental health needs who are not otherwise accessing professional help, and that it is motivating these young people to seek help if and when they need it.

To download the full report, fill in your contact details below.

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