Young go online for mental health help

Thu, Jul 21, 2011, 01:00

Young people are more likely to seek help for mental health problems online than access traditional services, according to a new report.

The 'Learning to Reach Out' report, which was published this morning, shows that many of those who have turned to health professionals for information and support have come away dissatisfied.

The research, which was carried out by, a website aimed at helping young people though tough times, shows that just 35 per cent of respondents had previously turned to a health professional for help when experiencing emotional difficulties.

This compares to 72 per cent of young people who had sought help from friends and 55 per cent who had gone to family members.

Of those who had spoken to a health professional in the past, 41 per cent reported that they were "unlikely" or "very unlikely" to do so again. chief executive Elaine Geraghty said the research showed the importance of the internet in promoting mental health awareness to young people.

The survey reveals that while 91 per cent of respondents agreed that anyone could experience a mental health problem, 59 per cent of them would not want other people to know if they were experiencing emotional difficulties.

It also reveals that nearly half of respondents rated their understanding of who to talk to about a tough time as only "Ok" or "not good at all."

The study consisted of an online survey of 523 respondents. A number of focus group discussions were also undertaken to assess mental health literacy among young people.

Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch, who attended the survey launch, said the fact that so many young people were not happy with the service they were receiving from health professionals was "a concern".

Ms Lynch said she was glad to see that young people did not have as many hang-ups as adults about expressing themselves emotionally. However, she said she worried that some would develop inhibitions about discussing their mental health as they got older.

"It is okay to not be okay sometimes. In the past we did not allow people the freedom to say that they weren't feeling alright but we have to get past that in order to normalise it,” she said.

“This valuable research illustrates that professional dedicated online resources, while 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,” she added. was launched in January 2010 and attracts over 3,000 unique visits to the webite every week.