Seeking help online vs in person: Service extension or service modification?

Presentation First Author: 
Debra Rickwood

headspace was set up in 2006 to improve help-seeking options for young people in Australia by providing youth-friendly, in-person mental health service centres across Australia. In 2011, it added an online platform-eheadspace-to increase its reach and make seeking help from headspace even more accessible to young people. This presentation compares the characteristics of young people accessing the different service options in terms of their demographics, presenting problems, risk factors and other variables affecting help-seeking behaviour. The aim is to determine whether the online option is an extension of in-person service access or whether a different type of client is attracted to this form of service delivery. Data were obtained through the revised minimum data set applications used to collect information on all headspace and eheadspace clients between January and June 2013. Results show that there are some quite striking differences between clients accessing the in-person headspace services compared with those going online. In particular, relatively more young women go online, compared with young men who are more likely to attend in person. Levels of psychological distress on presentation are significantly higher for those accessing online services compared with those visiting a centre. The reasons for these differences are considered as well as the implications for increasing young peoples help-seeking behaviour through the use of technology and youth-focused service delivery.

Conference Name: 
Presentation Date: 
November, 2013
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