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The ReachOut Forums are a moderated peer-support community for young people 14-25, assisting to understand mental health difficulties and wellbeing topics, connect with others and learn strategies for better mental health. This guide provides information on how young people use the ReachOut Forums, an outline of the moderation procedures used to keep the community safe, and advice from forum users and staff on using them with young people.

This guide will assist you to:

  • understand the purpose of the ReachOut Forums
  • understand how duty of care is managed
  • appropriately refer young people to the forums.
ReachOut forums

How young people use the ReachOut Forums

The ReachOut Forums provide a safe space for young people to discuss topics related to their mental health and wellbeing, and to seek guidance on getting appropriate help when they can’t cope with what they’re going through. Some of the key ways young people use the forums include:

  • getting opinions on a problem or getting things off their chest
  • learning from the real life experiences of others
  • reading or participating in Getting Real sessions (community discussions on how to manage factors that influence mental health)
  • connecting to others and reducing isolation
  • finding useful resources for what they’re going through.

Sometimes it's good to get opinions on a problem, or to see other ways of dealing with an issue that you might not have considered. People often share links to fact sheets and stories which of course helps too. Then the more fun areas of the forums give a chance to get away for a while and escape. I still think the Getting Real sessions are one of the better parts.

- Emily, 22

How the forums are moderated

In addition to technical measures that protect personal information and measure community health and risk factors, peers and staff moderate the ReachOut Forums.

Self-moderation:

  • All users must adhere to community guidelines which establish appropriate/inappropriate behaviour and the limitations of the services provided by ReachOut.com.
  • Young people can report inappropriate or risky content to moderators by clicking on the report button.

Staff moderation:

  • Trained peer moderators monitor the community and facilitate community discussion, hiding or reporting risky or inappropriate content in accordance with the forum guidelines.
  • Staff moderators respond to distressed young people and difficult content.
  • Discussions about sensitive issues or more serious mental health problems are facilitated by youth workers and mental health professionals.
  • If a young person posts information that indicates intent to suicide or cause harm to themselves or others, or raises child protection issues, staff follow set escalation procedures.

In order to avoid contributing to stigma by appearing to silence the voices of young people reaching out for help, staff moderate only when essential and where it is considered the content may cause harm to the young person or others.

Young people’s advice

Do warn [your] clients that the forums can make them feel very connected and that they won't feel as alone as before.

- Doris, 22

They are NOT a replacement for professional help and they are NOT a crisis support service. But they are an amazing place if you want to feel less alone and gain some insight into what has helped others get through tough times.

- Chelsea, 23

Where to access the forums

View the ReachOut Forums (desktop and mobile compatible)

Using this tool

  • Recommend them as a support community and place to learn from the experiences of others.
  • Share past or upcoming discussions with young people that may benefit from participating or reading them.
  • Browse content in the wellbeing section for good discussions and strategies to share with young people.
  • Find out more about ReachOut.com’s duty of care framework.