The ReachOut.com Forums are a moderated peer-support community for young people aged 14–25. The forums are intended to assist students to understand mental health difficulties and wellbeing topics, to connect with others, and to learn strategies for better mental health. The forums are a safe space where young people can give and receive help on topics that are impacting their mental health, and where they can go to make sense of the complicated things in their lives and to feel connected to people experiencing the same challenges as themselves.
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.
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 feel unable to cope with what they’re going through. Some of the key ways students use the forums include:
- talking to peers about challenges they are experiencing
- hearing and learning from other people's real-life experiences
- participating in peer- and facilitator-led discussions
- reading or participating in community discussions on how to manage factors that influence mental health
- connecting to others and reducing isolation
- finding useful resources that are relevant to what they’re going through.
‘ReachOut is more of a place to find people that have the same problems, and get peer support. Rather than an empty voice repeating the same thing over again, that’s already been said before, ReachOut is different. We all have our different personalities and problems, and we work together to make things work.’ – Forum user
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 to keep the online community safe.
- All users must adhere to community guidelines that establish what is 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.
- 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.
- Trained and qualified staff facilitate and supervise discussions about sensitive issues or more serious mental health problems.
- If a young person posts information that indicates intent to suicide or cause harm to themselves or others, or which raises child protection issues, staff follow set escalation procedures.
Using the forums to help students
There may be barriers to students accessing the forums, including not knowing that they exist, not feeling confident about accessing them, or fearing that stigma attaches to using them. As a teacher, you can help your students in a number of ways:
- Tell students about the forums. Mention them in home room, assemblies, newsletters, emails and/or the classroom.
- Encourage students to access the forums in their own time. Explain that continually working on their understanding of mental health and the things that affect it will help them to become more self-aware and capable.
- Show students the forums. This might mean helping them to set up an account, discussing the community guidelines, and showing them a couple of threads that might interest them.
- Remind students that seeking help whenever they feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges, or when they are experiencing mental health challenges or not feeling themselves, is a really powerful step in building resilience and overcoming those challenges.
Young people’s advice
‘I don’t class ReachOut as a helpline, because it’s anonymous and multiple people can help at the same time. And you can’t call people either. Only chatting on a forum.’’- Forum user
‘ReachOut is still the most helpful anything’s ever been to me. And I love helping other users where I can too!’- Forum user
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.