Aussie teens turn to Internet for e-motional healing

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In a paper to be presented at today’s conference, results from the first Australian study into adolescents’ use of Internet-based mental health services will be examined.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, 17,000 year 10 students from South Australia were surveyed about their use of the Internet to seek counselling and advice for personal problems.

The results reveal adolescents seek help from the Internet at the same rate they seek help from mental health professionals such as school counsellors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

Commenting on the results, psychologist Jonathon Nicholas said, “What was interesting about the research, is that teenage boys are really benefiting from access to online counselling – they tend to use the Internet just as much as their female counterparts to seek help but in the real world, they are much more inhibited about getting advice.’

“This is an important finding which demonstrates the power of the Internet as a medium to encourage help-seeking amongst young males. Teenage boys are much more open to mental health advice when it is accessible, anonymous and engaging.”

The results also revealed the most popular mental health website used by Australian teenagers is Reach Out! (www.reachout.com.au). However, only one in forty respondents had actually visited the site.

Psychologist Jonathon Nicholas said, “The Internet should be harnessed as an important medium to improve young people’s knowledge of mental health issues and their access to help and treatment, particularly for embarrassing, stigmatising and extremely personal problems.

“A campaign to raise awareness of such resources would be extremely beneficial to the emotional health of Australian adolescents,” he concluded.

Psychologist Jonathon Nicholas is available for interview and presents his research on the 1 October 2005at the 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference in Melbourne, 28 September – 2 October.

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To arrange an interview contact Elaine Grant 0412 683 068.

The 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference this month from 28 September- 2 October at Crown Promenade, Melbourne, Australia.

Themed Past Reflections, Future Directions, the five-day program includes international scholars and psychologists, interactive workshops, themed days and streams provided by APS Colleges and Divisions, research papers and symposia and fora.