Leading digital youth mental health service ReachOut has released new data which reveals that unprecedented numbers of young Australians are turning to digital support for their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since releasing Coronavirus-specific support on 16 March, visitation across ReachOut's services has increased by 50 percent (compared with the same period in 2019). This equates to more than 120,000 additional people accessing support, with 93,000 visiting for Coronavirus-specific support.
Record numbers of young people are seeking connection in ReachOut's peer-support forums where they can safely share their experiences, contribute coping strategies and ask for support. Since March 2020, there have been more than 65,000 engagements with ReachOut's online forums.
To date, ReachOut's Coronavirus-specific mental health support content has been viewed 88,593 times on ReachOut's youth site, 15,210 times on ReachOut Parents and 30,780 times on ReachOut Schools.
The new data also shows young people are experiencing an increasing level of distress. The number of duty of care incidents in the peer-support forums have doubled this quarter and visits to ReachOut's Urgent Help support page have increased by 14 per cent (year-on year), with a spike recorded during the recent school holiday period.
CEO of ReachOut, Ashley de Silva, said such a sustained and significant increase in demand for ReachOut's services demonstrates that digital mental health support is more important than ever for young Australians and their parents.
"In these unprecedented times, it's understandable that young people and parents are experiencing distress. What's encouraging is that the data shows so many people are engaging with support services. This is exactly the behaviour we would hope to see right now."
By tracking onsite data in real time and with additional insights from online focus groups, ReachOut is able to respond to the changing mental health needs of young Aussies and their parents, and provide them with a clear roadmap out of Coronavirus-related distress.
"We are already seeing that young people's needs are changing, with a shift from anxiety and uncertainty due to COVID-19 to financial distress, loneliness, challenges with motivation and difficulty concentrating with online learning, family conflict as well as support for mental health issues."
"All of the mental health support provided by ReachOut can be accessed for free and from home via any device, which is vital as Australians continue to live with significant restrictions."
"We are regularly sharing our data with Government and sector partners to inform a sustained and strong digital early intervention and prevention mental health response that will help young people to cope, build confidence and understanding, and to feel hopeful about their future."