Authors: Bianca Kahl, Sophia Garlick Bock, Gabrielle Kaplan, Ned Evans
Event: 2022 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: LEAD PRESENTATION: Stopping the spiral. How ReachOut helps young people in distress feel calmer and improve wellbeing
Bianca Kahl, Sophia Garlick Bock
Encouraging young people in distress to seek support has been an ongoing challenge for organisations within the mental health sector. When young people are feeling weighed down by stress, worries, and negative thoughts, doing something to improve their wellbeing can often feel impossible.
A 2020 cohort study of 400 ReachOut users aimed to understand the impact of an unstructured digital mental health service on the wellbeing of young people.
The findings showed that visiting ReachOut reduced feelings of worry, confusion, and sadness, and increased feelings of calm. Additionally, after 12 weeks of using ReachOut, average levels of distress decreased. Furthermore, 91.2% of users reported using strategies they had learned via ReachOut or they planned to do so. Young people also shared their lived experiences and stories of ReachOut’s impact through qualitative surveys and interviews.
To this extent, ReachOut may play an important role in preventing downward depressive emotional spirals (Fredrickson, 2001), and support young people to create a foundation from which they can build resilience and wellbeing (Garland et al., 2010). The learnings relating to the importance of immediate relief as a first step to encourage service engagement will be shared in this presentation.
PANEL PRESENTATION: Understanding the Experiences of Young People Navigating the Mental Healthcare System: A Multi-Perspective Qualitative Study
The Australian youth mental healthcare service network is extremely complex, which can make it difficult for young people to navigate effectively and receive appropriate care. Whilst literature suggests that young people face significant challenges when accessing and navigating mental healthcare services, only a handful of studies have explicitly accounted for the perspectives of young people and their clinicians. Therefore, this study followed a qualitative, multi-perspective design involving (a) interviews with five mental health clinicians and (b) interviews with eight young people with lived experience in mental healthcare. Participants engaged in a collaborative journey mapping activity where they were asked to identify and evaluate the key steps in a young person’s journey through the mental healthcare system. Results were analysed qualitatively using thematic analysis.
Congruent with existing literature, we found that young people faced significant challenges when accessing and navigating the mental healthcare system. Common barriers to care involved a lack of information about available services, a lack of mental health literacy, high eligibility criteria, stigma, and financial barriers. A lack of service integration further compounded deficits in service navigation, where young people faced issues with data sharing, changing services and clinicians, multiple assessments, and a lack of support after discharge.
PANEL PRESENTATION: UrHere – By young people for young people
“I’ve been fairly critical of the youth-targeted mental health campaigns that I’ve come across on social media…so many of them missed the point…there’s this huge social media trend of coloured graphics and big statistics, that encourage young people struggling to drink more water or something…but fail to step back and say, “Hey, you’re not alone in what you’re feeling right now, it can be explained and here’s where you can go when it feels like it’s getting too much.” (young person)
UrHere is an online campaign developed by youth for youth. Using a co-design framework, all content is developed and delivered by young people, engaging young people in conversations about their struggles, providing a space where, through encouragement and shared experiences, they can support one another no matter where they live, their identity, their background.
In an environment where social media is often something to be feared, the campaign dispels those myths and through platforms across TikTok, Youtube and Instagram Reels provides young people with information and support around topics young people resonate with. Through co-design, we were able to highlight gaps from existing mental health campaigns and aim to fill them through our youth informed content and support strategies.