Innovation summary

Mental disorders are the leading contributor to the burden of disease and injury (49%) among young Australians aged 15-24 and one in four young people have a mental disorder.

By enabling young people to recognize and understand what they are going through, improving their mental health literacy and improving awareness of self-help tools and available clinical services, aims to ensure young people experiencing mental health difficulties get the help they need, where and when they need it.

Impact summary

  • 1.4 million young Australians are supported through each year
  • 91% of respondents that were “going through a tough time” reported that gave them the information they needed and 72% of respondents that were “going through a tough time” reported that helped them deal with the issue1
  • In 2011/12, the service was accessed by over 1.4 million young people at a cost of approximately $1.82 USD per capita

It’s there with the facts, nice and easy, and it’s yourself reading it from home. You don’t have to pick up a brochure in a room full of people”


– 15 year-old male service user on his likes about ReachOut.com1

Innovation details

Approximately 75% of mental disorders have their onset prior to age 25, emphasizing the importance of targeting prevention and early intervention efforts at young people. Despite the high prevalence of mental health disorders among this age group, 80% of young men and 70% of young women experiencing psychological distress do not seek professional support.

The primary focus of is prevention and early-intervention of high-prevalence mental health disorders through delivery of a youth mental health service in a safe and anonymous online environment. is an online youth mental health service targeted at young people aged 14 – 25 years. The use of youth-friendly fact sheets, real-life stories, an online peer-support community and self-help apps and tools enables to support over 1.4 million young Australians each year – through direct provision of information and support, or onward referral pathways to clinical services where appropriate.

By providing the service online the innovation is able to reach young people, a group of individuals unlikely to access traditional services due to stigma, lack of confidence in clinical services or geographical isolation.

Our strong youth involvement program enables the service to be designed and delivered by young people themselves and ensures it remains engaging, relevant and high-impact.

Key drivers

Youth involvement 

  • The program in centered on a strong youth involvement and user experience design program
  • This ensures that the program remains meaningful and relevant to the young people that use the service

Technical innovation

  • By remaining at the forefront of technical innovation and being in a space where young people are, has continued to be a highly accessed public mental health service and a gateway to clinical intervention and treatment for young people that otherwise would not access professional support
  • When the program launched in 1998, was the world’s first online mental health service and since that time has remained at the forefront of technical innovation in mental health service delivery
  • steps away from the traditional clinician-led mental health service model and enables young people to self-direct their help seeking journey and utilise self-help tools and applications to improve their mental health and wellbeing


Ever-changing environment

The technical landscape is fast-paced and dynamic. Keeping pace with the industry to remain at the forefront of service innovation in a financially constrained environment remains a challenge in the charitable sector.


As a small organisation, growing our capability to deliver innovation over time presents a challenge, and requires us to partner with appropriate organisations and agencies to deliver high-quality products efficiently and effectively.


Over the next three years plans to increase their outreach and reach significantly more young Australians that are in need of support. In addition, there will be an increase in self-help tools and applications for young people  and the website will further integrate with clinical services to ensure young people experience a seamless and comprehensive mental health journey. By leveraging the technical platform to deliver a more personalized service, young people will get the mental health support and resources that are most relevant to them – quickly, easily and conveniently.


The service is delivered by the Inspire Foundation, working in close partnership with young people themselves.


Evaluation methods

The evaluation framework is aligned to evidence based program logic models and incorporates a mix of methods and monitoring tools. At the center of this framework is an annual cross sectional ‘intercept survey’, developed in collaboration with academic partners.

In 2012, over 5,500 site users participated, providing a comprehensive profile of service user characteristics (such as demographics and psychological distress), past and future intended help-seeking behaviours, along with assessing user needs and user experience measures. The survey complements insights derived from other monitoring and evaluation tools such as Google and social analytics, nationally representative market research surveys and qualitative user experience and onsite community studies.

Clinical controlled trials have also been undertaken on specific aspects of the program and a longitudinal cohort study is presently being planned to assess long-term outcomes of Collectively, these evaluate whether is effectively reaching its target audiences and achieving its core program objectives.

Moreover, the evaluation findings identify program strengths and challenges, playing an important role in service delivery and development, as well as guiding future research and evaluation priorities.

Cost of implementation is highly cost-effective because the services are provided online rather than face-to-face. In 2011/12 the service was accessed by over 1.4 million young people at a cost of approximately $1.82 USD per capita.1

Impact details was accessed by over 1.4 million unique visitors in 2011/12. Key impact measures from the 2012 impact survey1 include:

  • 75% of users are experiencing high or very high psychological distress (as measured by the Kessler 10 (K10) scale), indicating that the service is reaching the young people that need it most
  • 91% of respondents that were “going through a tough time” reported that gave them the information they needed
  • 72% of respondents that were “going through a tough time” reported that helped them deal with the issue
  • 60% of young people accessing reported they had not previously accessed professional sources of help. Of this group, 40% indicated they were more likely to access professional help after using, illustrating the pivotal role the service plays to facilitate help-seeking. program has been implemented across Ireland (2009) and the USA (2010), supporting approximately 150,000 and 940,000 young people each year in Ireland and the USA respectively.


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