Australian Youth Seeking Mental Health Support Doubles Amid Pandemic

May 8, 2020 Updated: May 8, 2020

Unprecedented numbers of youth have turned to online mental health support services during the CCP virus pandemic, according to new data from ReachOut, Australia’s leading online youth mental health service.

The data revealed that visits to ReachOut’s services increased by 50 percent compared to the same period in 2019. This equates to 120,000 extra people, 93,000 of which sought support related to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.

It also showed that young people are experiencing higher levels of distress. Visits to ReachOut’s Urgent Help page increased by 14 percent, with a spike during the April school holiday period.

Psychiatrist Patrick McGorry told Sky News on May 7 that every recession is “followed by rising risks of suicide.” He said that Australia’s youth are the most vulnerable to mental illness during COVID-19. Due to closed schools and universities, they face uncertainty in the future of their schooling and employment.

Australian young people have the highest prevalence of mental illness than any other age group. Data from the 2014 Mission Australia Youth Survey (pdf) showed that around one in five young people (15-19 years old) was likely to have a serious mental illness.

“There is an increase in insecurity in a population which already bear the main burden of mental health,” McGorry said.

While some cases are clinical, he said that “the really powerful forces are actually economic and social.”

Mental health service Beyond Blue also has a free Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Line (1800 512 348) available 24/7, with trained counsellors, as well as an online platform with forums and tailored mental health resources to support the community.