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How the digital revolution has transformed youth mental health

Tech4Good

Posted on July 26, 2017

4 min read

Kate was 10-years-old when she was held hostage at her primary school in regional New South Wales.

It was an incident she physically endured for a few hours. But mentally, now 15 years later the impact is felt every day.

Kate was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder – or PTSD – and while dealing with a mental illness is tough for any young person, her regional postcode made her feel isolated.

That’s why Kate is now an active moderator on the ReachOut online forums, helping other young people from around Australia deal with PTSD.

She explains: “There are literally no support services for young people with PTSD in my area. The ReachOut Forums give young people in rural and regional areas a place to go when they wouldn’t have that otherwise.”

And it’s for young people just like Kate that we’re proud to re-launch ReachOut.com to assist young people in greater ways than ever before.

Our new platform provides a one-stop-shop for young people to connect to personalised support when they need it most.

In the two decades since ReachOut launched the world’s first online mental health service for young people, the growth of the internet has helped millions of young people who may otherwise have had no access to support.

It allows us to extend our reach deeper into rural and regional areas where services may be limited, by connecting young people with peer support.

The digital evolution has allowed us to build a service that provides help that’s more tailored than ever before, to a virtually unlimited number of people and whenever they need it, all because it’s online.

ReachOut is the gateway to Australia’s mental health system for young people and is currently accessed by 1.58m people each year.

Through our new platform, we aim to reach an additional one million people over the next three years – and that’s exciting.

REACHOUT HAS BEEN HELPING YOUNG PEOPLE SINCE 1997

In redesigning our service we wanted to reimagine the power of digital technologies to support, connect and empower young people.

But to achieve that, we needed the experts. That’s why we had 174 young people co-design the new ReachOut.com. It has been developed for young people, with young people.

The mobile-first digital platform provides a personalised and interactive service, with a world-leading focus on prevention, self-help and early intervention.

It connects young people to free, anytime help – and focuses on prevention, self-help and early intervention.

Importantly, we also have a range of new features that help parents and carers improve the mental health and wellbeing of the young people within their family environment.

We know that around 70% of our users find ReachOut through Google, so we wanted to ensure the site provides support and resources for any question they might be searching for.

That includes things like understanding mental health issues like depression and anxiety better. It also means issues like bullying, exam stress and relationship difficulties – which we know can cause a lot of mental health issues.

We’ve also worked hard to make the site as accessible as possible. For example, it is now much easier to navigate on mobile devices as we know most young people access the web on-the-go.

In addition, we’ve ensured that they can access all of the services on ReachOut without having to identify themselves. This way, they can access the help they need whilst remaining anonymous – a key concern for anyone when it comes to their mental health.

The platform has been built with young people, for young people thanks to funding from the Telstra Foundation, Audi Foundation and Federal Government Department of Health.

If anyone is looking for help and support, please come to ReachOut.com as your first step.

Telstra and ReachOut

Since launching the world’s first online mental health service 20 years ago, the ReachOut team has continued to challenge themselves to re-imagine the delivery of their services to young people. At Telstra, we share ReachOut’s optimism in the power of innovation and technology to change lives. We are proud to support ReachOut on this journey – as we have for many years – partnering in a number of youth-focussed social innovation programs through the Telstra Foundation. But it was our shareholders who have helped bring the new ReachOut.com to life through the Telstra Shareholder Dividend Reinvestment Program. Find out more here.