Young people more likely to go online for mental health support, poll suggests

The Government was urged to ‘go digital’ to reach young people with mental health concerns Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Young people say they are more likely to turn to online platforms for mental health support than medical professionals, family or friends, according to a survey.

A poll found that nearly two-thirds (65%) of 16 to 24-year-olds would look for online support for a mental health issue or concern rather than from their family, friends or a medical professional.

Safeguarding and anti-bullying platform tootoot, which commissioned the survey, said the findings show the Government should “go digital” to reach young people with mental health concerns.

It found 40% of British adults also said they would seek support from online platforms such as anonymous chat forums, phone apps and social media, while those aged 16 to 24 said they would be most likely to turn to Google when online.

Men were less likely to seek support than women, with nearly one in five saying that they would not turn anywhere if they had concerns regarding mental health problems.

Men were also less likely to confide in their friends or family than women – 39% compared with 54% respectively.

Tootoot founder and chief executive Michael Brennan said: “The clear message here is that traditional community-based channels for accessing mental health support are not the places that young people are most likely to turn to for support.

“Whilst we welcome the Government’s commitment to increasing funding for young people’s mental health support – for example, the new crisis centres in A&E departments and schools-based teams announced in the autumn Budget – we need to make sure that our efforts to encourage face-to-face conversations are supplemented by appropriate online support.

“Young people are going online for mental health support – they are using apps, websites and social media.

“Schools and Government-funded community-based programmes must also consider how to access these young people online.”

The Censuswide poll saw 1,000 adults questioned online.