The ReachOut.com team get lots of requests for information about ReachOut.com and mental health from students to use in their school or college projects. This section answers some frequently asked questions about these.
How do young people find out about the programme?
Young people find out about ReachOut.com through school and college, events, through links on other websites, search engines (e.g. Google), magazine/newspaper articles, brochures/postcards/stickers, youth centres, word of mouth, health professionals (school counsellors, social workers, GPs, psychologists etc). Previous advertising campaigns include radio advertising and bus shelter poster ads.
What do you think makes ReachOut.com so appealing?
Young people like the fact that it’s anonymous and available 24/7. The information is written in consultation with experts and easy to understand (we ask young people to give feedback to all content). It’s also a friendly and non-judgemental website with links to other relevant helpful organisations.
We do a lot of offline events such as information hosting stands at Dáil na nÓg or the Young Social Innovators. We bring our Note to Self campaign to college campuses for their mental health weeks etc. This not only raise awareness about ReachOut.com, but also allow us to meet young people to ensure we stay connected with our audience; generating ideas; content for the website and sometimes new volunteers!
Is the internet the most effective medium to spread your message to young people in Ireland?
It is certainly effective – available 24/7, anonymous – nobody needs to know you’re looking at it – and cost-effective (but not cheap).
What’s it like to work in the area of youth mental health?
When a young person confides in ReachOut.com about a tough time they are going through, you are in a very privileged position for them to have that level of trust in you. It‘s extremely rewarding to be able to reassure people with information and stories that helps them get the help they need. We believe in every young person’s ability to get themselves through their tough times with the right support.
What can ReachOut.com do to help young people through tough times?
We help young people through tough times (whether that be exam stress, questions about relationships, sexuality, conflict with parents, drug and alcohol problems or mental illness) by providing relevant information and signposting to appropriate support services and also helping people boost their mental health even if they’re doing OK by learning skills that will make them more resilient and by providing information on what it is to practice positive mental health.
We know from our user profiling survey that a large number of young people who interact with the website are experiencing psychological distress, and we are able to provide those young people with information and stories on the website that let them know that they are not alone and that they can get through their distress with the right help. Our emphasis is on providing an online service for a large number of people – population health rather than individual help.
By increasing the level of mental health literacy in all young people we hope that mental health problems will be detected earlier when they are easiest to deal with. By promoting positive attitudes to mental health, young people who suffer from mental health problems don’t have to face the stigma and negative attitudes to mental health that previous generations may have faced and can get the help and support they need.
What are the main difficulties young people with mental health problems are faced with?
Many young people experiencing mental health problems express feeling very alone, like they are the only ones going through what they are experiencing, and can often become quite isolated as a result of their illness. Once they land on the website and read stories from others they realise they’re not the only ones and that they can get through it.
There are a few barriers to seeking information or help for a mental health problem in Ireland. These include the high cost of some services, living too far away from services or not wanting to seek help about a problem because of embarrassment or shame.
ReachOut.com can overcome all these barriers and help young people to find the information they need about a mental health problem confidentially and at a time that suits them and if the young person feels they need more than information, ReachOut.com can point towards appropriate face to face services who can help.
How many young people in Ireland have a mental health problem?
Research shows that psychological distress is high in Ireland.
- At any given time, 20% of young people experience serious emotional distress. Of these, only a small minority are in contact with any form of support service. Vital opportunities for early intervention are being missed.
- According to the World Health Organisation, Ireland has the fourth highest rate of suicide in young people aged 15-24 in the E.U.
- The highest percentage of first admissions to Irish psychiatric in-patient facilities in Ireland in 2005 was in the 20-24 year old age group.