October 22, 2010

Reach Out to a Happier, Healthier Future

Filed under: Guest Blog, Resource, Youth — BringChange2Mind @ 8:45 am

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 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.

How Reach Out Answers the Need
Reach Out provides:

  • 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



  1. One thing that bothers me is when I’m hospitalized, I wake up in over-sized, old, and stained clothes. Could someone donate some nice clothes to mental hospitals and state hospitals. I feel like Bozo the clown until my family can get clothes to me. This is just one frustration.

    Another frustration is could someone advocate for mentally ill people who are on disability or SSI, SSA that we could have a part-time job without it affecting our benefits. I tried to have a part-time job and I got a letter saying I owed the government a sizeable amount of money. I had to go back to my lawyer, and give up ever holding a job.

    I am Bi-polar. Thank you for listening. Someone.

    Comment by Sandra A. Greear — October 24, 2010 @ 6:47 pm

  2. This is great that someone is finally doing something to give the teen and young adult support. When I was in college, my brother had a mental breakdown, was diagnosed with bipolar disroder, and was put in the hospital. I was 20 years old and had no idea how to find support from my friends and at my University. Every family member needs support so they can support their loved ones. My college roommate and I have now launched a blog called supporting our siblings. We would love to hear your stories.

    Also, Reach Out please don’t forget the sibling. I have anxiety myself but I had a tough few years. But in the end this is going to be my life. I am always going to worry about my brother. As you all know, these are not your average worries. I worry about him committing suicide, I worry that one day we just won’t hear from him, I worry about the pain he’s going through and how he must feel in this world not having control over his mind.
    Thank you Reach Out and Inspire USA

    Check out our blog:

    Comment by Anna — October 25, 2010 @ 8:43 am

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