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Mental Health Online Youth Apps/Forums/Free Service

Posted on 12/04/2015 at 12:00 AM by MaryAnn Strawhacker

School Nurses:

With the holidays fast approaching, stress mounting, most of us are facing the effects daily in the health office. Research has shown some efficacy to using online open access cognitive behavioral therapy, especially for teenagers with no previous mental health treatment. (1) Best results are for those students who have mild to moderate effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.

The site I found that offers the broadest collection is out of Australia. I did a quick check and the recommended apps were readily available in the Google play store (I have an android smart phone.) but apple store listings were there as well.  I downloaded a couple of these apps to test them out. All apps on this site have been reviewed by a medical professional and teenagers. Apps must pass both sets of reviewers to be recommended.  Here is the link to professional section of this site Reach Out.com.  where you can explore apps in their 'Toolbox' and find ones that could be helpful. The site also provides an overview of mental health as related to youth and provides concrete strategies for schools. In other sections you will find ideas for school newsletters, lessons, and initiatives. The site provides access to 24/7 trained counselors as well through its online chat function.

Good news is that there is also a USA version that cites two hotlines:

  • Youth helpline Your Life Your Voice at 1-800-448-3000, run by Boys Town National Hotline (for everyone).
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Lifeline is a free, confidential, 24 hour hotline for anyone who is going through emotional distress or is in suicidal crisis.

The USA version does not provide online counseling but does provide information regarding when therapy may be needed. It too has many links to factual and easy to understand mental health information. Forums are monitored 24/7 by a team of professionals who state on the site that posts deemed to be "at risk" for self harm or suicide will be contacted outside the forum and offered additional support.

Finally do not forget about Iowa's Teen line, a free service:

TEEN Line: 1-800-443-8336

The TEEN Line is a toll-free number for adolescents and adults working with adolescents. Information is provided on health and relationship concerns and related resources. The line is free, confidential, and answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

MaryAnn

1J Med Internet Res 2009;11(2):e13   doi:10.2196/jmir.1194

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