More youth with mental health issues turning to the internet: why we need to embrace e-health

A recent joint report by Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute indicated that nearly one in four young Australians have are at risk of serious mental illness.

Interestingly enough, they consistently report “the top three sources they would go to for help with important issues in their lives are friends, parents and the internet.” On the contrary, young people without risk of mental illness don’t cite the internet as a source they turn to for help.

Despite widespread concerns that attribute a rise in mental health to greater technology usage, we must also recognise that we need to reach young adults online where they are seeking help:

“We know that 99% of young people are online daily, and need to harness this incredible opportunity to provide help when and where they need it, not just in times of crisis but as a preventative measure and effective form of early intervention.”– Professor Jane Burns, CEO of InnoWell.

Overcoming obstacles of stigma and distance

Online support services and apps are important tools in addressing social stigma and help to bridge inequalities of access particularly in regional areas. These services provide a platform where young people can access help without fear of judgement.

Research shows that online mental health programs  have been effective in reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety in young people. In recognising this, Beyondblue are pushing to include e-health as one of their core services. Similarly, InnoWell has developed Synergy, a digital ecosystem that seeks to connect young people with mental health resources  both online and offline.

With greater investment in mental e-health services, we can ensure that young people are being given every opportunity to reach out, seek help and feel supported.

 

Check out these online services and mental health apps:

  • The check-in app
  • Appreciating a mate
  • eheadspace
  • ReachOut Breathe
  • myCompass
  • Smiling mind
  • Mood gym