ReachOut takes the NextStep for young people’s mental health

“With ReachOut NextStep, all the research has been done for you. All you need to focus on is getting better”. – Kelly Deane, 21, Young and Well CRC Youth Brains Trust member. 

ReachOut NextStep is an Australian first online tool that steps young people through their personal situation to connect with tailored mental health support, either online or face-to-face, based on their symptoms and how significantly the symptoms are affecting them.

Created by ReachOut Australia in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, the new tool is powered by a complex algorithm that can respond to thousands of possible combinations based on a young person’s needs and preferences, and is set to revolutionise a young person’s journey through the mental health system.

  • 1 in 4 young people in Australia experience mental health difficulties.
  • 75% of mental health problems emerge before the age of 25.
  • Timely and appropriate help-seeking is critical, yet 70% of Australians aged 18–25 years don’t seek professional help.

ReachOut NextStep is the latest digital offering to be integrated into leading online mental health service, and was developed in conjunction with more than 600 young people and leading experts, to address the persistently low rates of services access by young people.

Recommendations range from immediate access to information and tools for self-care such as factsheets, apps and personal stories, to links to online chat or peer-to-peer forums, or referrals to face-to-face and telephone support services. The tool can be accessed for free from any desktop, tablet or mobile device.

Young and Well CRC Youth Brains Trust member, Kelly Deane, 21, checked out the new tool:

“Trying to find answers and help for the problems you are facing can be overwhelming, especially online. Resources can be found at the touch of a button, but often they aren’t the right fit for your unique situation, which can result in increased feelings of isolation and a sense that ‘there’s nothing that can help me’. I feel that this new tool will really help to whittle down at all of these options available in the world of mental health, and isolate those that are most suitable for me, and therefore most likely to give me the results I’m looking for.

“Finding mental health help online is often confusing when you’ve already got enough on your plate – which I know firsthand after trying to find help for myself and my friends who have experienced mental illness. With ReachOut NextStep, all the research has been done for you. All you need to focus on is getting better,” Ms Deane said.

CEO of the Young and Well CRC, Associate Professor Jane Burns, was delighted to see the new tool go live.

“With 110,000 Australians accessing each month, there is no doubt about the impact a tool like ReachOut NextStep can have. It is certainly not young people’s fault that they are faced with a fragmented, confusing mental health system, yet they are the ones bearing the brunt of it. We must do everything we can to improve this situation to ensure that young people feel more inclined to reach out for support when they need it and confident that they will receive the level of care they need,” A/Prof Burns said.

CEO of ReachOut Australia, Jonathan Nicholas, said the tool tackles many of the barriers to seeking help: “Young people are in control of the process, can set their pace without feeling pressured and can identify how they’re feeling instead of being expected to know what’s going on. The evidence tells us that each of these factors can impact whether a young person seeks help, and it’s this approach that makes ReachOut NextStep more powerful than a simple online referral tool or service directory.”

ReachOut NextStep draws on the expertise of other leading providers such Butterfly Foundation, headspace and Lifeline. As a white-label product, the tool’s widget can be adapted to exist in other online platforms frequented by young people – potentially opening up its reach to digital environments such as universities, sporting clubs, online retailers and social networking sites.

To access the tool visit

18/05/2016 to 27/05/2016
2016 Mental Health in Schools Conference
19/05/2016 to 10/06/2016
Positive Schools Conference
01/06/2016 to 03/06/2016
Mental Health for Young People: Creating Positive Futures—ACCSSQ Conference
13/07/2016 to 15/07/2016
Student Well-Being and Prevention of Violence Research Centre Conference
24/07/2016 to 27/07/2016
National Suicide Prevention Conference
28/07/2016 to 29/07/2016
SYHPANZ Conference – Absolutely Positively Youth Health
10/08/2016 to 12/08/2016
17th International Mental Health Conference
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