Learning to reach out

July 21st, 2011

Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch T.D., today launched a new study on young people’s attitudes when seeking help for mental health problems.

First of its kind

The research and evaluation report, Learning to reach out: Young people, mental health literacy and the Internet, is the first of its kind in Ireland, conducted by Inspire/ReachOut.com.

Read full report in .pdf format

The report comprehensively deals with understanding and using online mental health resources safely, the mental health literacy of young people in Ireland, and the first ever ReachOut.com user-profile survey.

Identifying and getting help

Launching the report, Minister Lynch said “This valuable research illustrates that professional, dedicated online resources, whilst not a replacement for face-to-face mental health support, play a unique and complementary role by facilitating young people in identifying and getting help for mental health difficulties.

“In order to succeed in informing more young people on mental health and addressing the stigma often associated with it, engagement and advice must be in a conducive, comfortable youth-friendly environment and through a familiar, accessible and enabling medium. It is vital that we ensure that mental health services reach all audiences and, in this context, are fully attuned to how young people think, behave and interact with others in their day-to-day lives.”

Some key findings in the report include:

  • 74% of respondents to the ReachOut.com survey reported mild, moderate or severe levels of psychological distress;
  • 91% of people surveyed agreed that “anyone can experience a mental health problem”,  yet 59% of young people “wouldn’t want other people to know” if they had a mental health problem;
  • Two-thirds of respondents would recommend ReachOut.com to a friend, with a similar proportion agreeing that it is “a site I can trust”;
  • Of those who had spoken to a health professional in the past, 41% reported that they were “unlikely” or “very unlikely” to look for help from a health professional in the future.

Elaine Geraghty CEO, said, “Since its launch in January 2010, ReachOut.com has established itself as an innovative online youth mental health resource attracting 3,000 unique Irish visits every week. ReachOut.com is committed to evaluating the impact of its work on an ongoing basis so that the mental health needs of young people can be determined and met.

“This research and evaluation report will help to provide a framework for understanding the online environment and its uses within the mental health sector, both in Ireland and internationally.”

Read full report in .pdf format