ReachOut Youth Volunteers
Oregon Focus group results
During the month of September 2016, ReachOut USA in collaboration with Lines for life and Youth MOVE Oregon set up focus groups of teens and young adults at three geographically diverse locations across Oregon to:
- gain insight into the barriers preventing youth from accessing help for mental health challenges
- find more about technology use in expressing distress and seeking help
- seek an understanding of how to attract youth to a mental health movement and best disseminate information.
Through these discussions, members found a more nuanced perspective on the factors that inhibit help-seeking and the way in which teens and young adults feel comfortable and are prone to use technology.
Highlights of insights
Many of the focus group participants had personal connections to peers who struggled with suicidal thoughts.
Fear of family members’ reaction and embarrassment were mentioned frequently as reasons for youth being reticent to reveal a mental health problem and seek help.
A common method of trying to help a friend who is struggling is by using Google to search for online materials that relate to well-being, or that address specific mental health issues like “how to stop a panic attack.”
The youth participants expressed frustration with the lack resources available on social media platforms like Facebook to support peers who indicate they need help.
Participants noticed that friends are more willing to reveal distress online rather than in person, and anonymity online encourages honesty.
Snapchat is more often the platform youth choose to vent because of the ephemeral quality of the posts.
Participants suggested that promotions for a mental health movement need to be funny and entertaining to attract a youth audience, easily accessible and with an informed use of social media.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Oregon youth and the suicide rate among adolescents aged 10 through 17 years has increased since 2011. The plan to help reduce suicide in Oregon is for ReachOut to provide the online component of the three pronged strategy: we provide community forums and supports facilitated by peers, Lines for Life Provide crisis intervention services by text, online chat, phone and email and Youth Move provides the in-person drop-in centers throughout the state. This focus group was only the first step in the plan.
THANK YOU for your past and/or continued support for ReachOut's work for reducing youth suicide in America. We believe that getting youth the help that they need before it becomes a crisis is key to reducing suicide. We hope that you have a wonderful new year & hope you remember to take care of yourself and your own mental health.