Social networking, brand name clothes, new schools, relationships, peer pressure, hormonal changes, grades, career plans, and extracurricular activities piled on top – being a teen or young adult can be rough. Most people would agree that they would rather not revisit the problems that dominated their middle school, high school and college years, but there is hope for this generation and those to come. That hope and comfort lies in a newly established website that encourages teens to Reach Out when they experience hard times. The Inspire USA Foundation launched ReachOut.com in March 2010 so that young people would be able to easily find all kinds of information about how to cope with life’s stressors.
It is tragic that some young people find life stresses to be so overwhelming that they contemplate suicide — and in all too many instances — take their own lives. National research indicates that suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. But with the right help, suicide can be prevented.
- Information based on evidence-based principles
- True, real life stories of teens and young adults and how they made it through a tough time
- The ability to connect and contribute content within a safe online community, and
- Options to find further help
Reach Out is an online service that can help teens and young adults get through tough times in a way that traditional mental health services cannot. It’s a place to improve understanding of mental health issues, increase coping skills and review help-seeking options.
Inspire USA Foundation’s Involvement
Its spine, its rock, its anchor and light house – Inspire USA is the support behind Reach Out. Inspire USA has deep roots in Australia where Reach Out began 14 years ago. Inspire’s mission is to help millions of young people lead happier lives.
I became interested in Inspire and Reach Out while working with the Federal government. At that time I worked in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and had the responsibility of overseeing suicide prevention and youth violence prevention initiatives. Jack Heath, the founder of Inspire, came to my office and presented about Reach Out. I was excited because Reach Out was the first example I had seen of successfully integrating technology and prevention in a way that drew on the strengths and interests of young people — and had a mission that was not only interested in how to prevent problems — but was also interested in the support and development of well being. These were, and continue to be, professional interests of mine.
A recent report issued by the Institute of Medicine indicated that in 2007, the annual costs of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders among young people totaled roughly $247 billion.
How can we begin to reduce this figure — and the numbers of youth at risk for suicide — if we don’t begin to provide what young people tell us they want – accurate, accessible information and a safe online community where they can interact with peers and professionals? Reach Out is one stellar example of doing it right.
~ Susan G. Keys, Ph.D., Special Advisor on Mental Health, Inspire USA Foundation