S38: Kids Helpline Circles: Building a Healthy Online Community for Youth Mental Health Support

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By September 11, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Brian Collyer, Andrew Campbell, Pablo Navarro

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Kids Helpline Circles: Building a Healthy Online Community for Youth Mental Health Support

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Brian Collyer is a Senior Researcher with yourtown and has a particular interest in online therapies, better understanding help-seeking, and improving Kids Help Line responses to vulnerable young people.

Pablo Navarro is a counselling psychologist and accredited psychosexual therapist with over 10 years experience working with young people and adults of all abilities and identities. He is currently completing a PhD in clinical psychology, where he is investigating the effectiveness of text-based online counselling when working with young people.

This paper will outline how Kids Helpline’s delivery of emotional and mental health support has evolved to meet the changing needs and preferences of young Australians. We will focus on Kids Helpline Circles, an innovative mental health initiative to engage youth aged 13-25 across Australia in group counselling via a purpose-built social network.

First conceptualised in 2014 in collaboration with The University of Sydney Cyberpsychology Research Group, Circles is now undergoing its second phase of Participatory Action Research with client and counsellor centred evaluation, leading to an evidence-based design of how to engage young people at risk of self-harm, and who have lived experience with depression and anxiety. In addition to the provision of peer support, by facilitating a one to many model of care whereby a small team of mental health professionals can support a large cohort of participants, Kids Helpline Circles is a mental health intervention with greater reach, efficiency and potentially effectiveness than other interventions.

Findings will be presented on the effectiveness of this intervention and how feedback from participants has been incorporated to design a platform and service to best support young people.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: The audience will understand how youth help-seeking preferences have evolved from Kids Helpline’s experience and how innovative technology can be deployed to meet those preferences.

Learning Objective 2: The audience will understand how mental health services can build healthy online communities that engage young people for group counselling and peer support through secure social media networks.


Ridout, B., Campbell, A. (2018). The Use of Social Networking Sites in Mental Health Interventions for Young People: Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 20(12), 1-11.

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