Online self-help tools can help teenagers manage mental health symptoms, both before and after they get serious. By learning more about them, and becoming familiar with them yourself, you can put yourself in the right position to help when your child asks you for advice.
Over two decades of research has shown the benefits of self-help via technology. Apps and online tools can help people develop mental wellbeing or manage symptoms of mental health disorders on their own. Online support can be used for additional support while receiving face-to-face professional treatment as well, talk to your mental health professional about what tools you’re using and how they’re helping you.
How apps and online tools can help
Many self-help tools are accessible 24/7, on computers, tablets or mobiles, and are anonymous, making it easier to get help whenever and wherever you need it.
Self-help tools can help by:
- increasing your understanding of mental health and the things that help
- building social connectedness and a sense of belonging
- improving your understanding of how to get professional help
- helping you feel confident to take the right steps to manage mental health and wellbeing.
They can be particularly helpful for people who struggle to access traditional face-to-face services. Apps and online tools are available anytime and almost anywhere, meaning that busy schedules or physical remoteness does not stop someone from accessing support.
Types of self-help tools
Types of self-help tools that are available for most people to access include:
- information websites such as this one (and ReachOut.com for your child).
- online communities like the forums on ReachOut Parents (and ReachOut.com forums for your child)
- online self-help programs or courses
- mobile apps.
By being aware of these services and taking a little time to use them, you can better understand the supports available to your child.
Finding and using the right self-help tools
There’s a lot of different information online about how to get help when you’re struggling, and a lot of different self-help tools, apps and therapies. To find out what approach might be best for your child, try the ideas below.
Familiarise yourself with quality websites and forumsGood health websites are backed by research, and are easy to navigate and understand.
Good online forums are monitored, with people who review the content and make sure the space remains safe. ReachOut.com for young people and ReachOut Parents are both reputable, evidence based and professionally moderated online information and support services.
Learn about common mental health symptoms and what works
Different things work for different issues, and no one app, therapy or approach works for everything (or every person). Use the information and stories on ReachOut Parents to learn what sort of things help with anxiety, depression, and other common problems.
Use online reviews to know which therapies and apps are good.
Tools like the ReachOut Toolbox can help you and your child find mobile apps endorsed by professionals and young people.
If it isn’t helping, get backup.
Professional health services exist to help people when they can’t manage on their own, or when they need additional help learning how to manage mental health disorders and maintain good mental health. If you think you or your child might need extra help, your doctor is the first place to start.
When to use apps and online tools for self-help
It is never too early to learn how to keep yourself mentally healthy, and to learn the kinds of things that help manage anxiety and depression, common things that we all experience to some degree in our lives.
Read up on the kinds of mental health disorders people experience here on ReachOut Parents, and spend some time on our forums reading the experiences of other families.
Try out some apps or self-help strategies, and show them to your child. It will help them feel comfortable using them, or asking you when they need this kind of help themselves.
- register for our parents forum, where you can read other people’s experiences and share your own
- browse the apps and tools reviewed by health professionals in the Toolbox on ReachOut.com
- learn how to help your child manage stress and anxiety symptoms by using ReachOut Breathe and ReachOut WorryTime.