Brittany Hanson, 21, studies Family Social Science at the
University of Minnesota. She currently interns with ReachOut.com in
Australia. In this article, Brittany interviews Anna Ross from the
Mental Health Literacy Research Team at Orygen Youth Health, the
team that earlier this year launched the youth mental health
experience sharing website WhatWorks4U.org.
With one in four people under the age of 24 dealing with a
mental health condition, there is a need for alternative online
services that help young people and health care workers work
towards overcoming these problems. Orygen Youth Health have created
a site that takes a unique approach to the situation, allowing
young people who have experienced mental health problems to share
what has worked for them in their recovery.
WhatWorks4U.org directly focuses on
what can be done to help young people with mental health problems.
The site allows users to create a profile and anonymously post the
strategies and treatments that have worked for them. Sharing what
works best for young people allows health care professionals and
other young people to learn about what could work for them.
To find out more about WhatWorks4U.org and it's impact, I
interviewed Anna Ross is - a research assistant at Orygen Youth
Health, the largest youth mental health research centre in
Australia and the creators of the WhatWorks4U.org website.
According to Anna, one of the key issues for young people
seeking help is a lack of knowledge on treatments that work - and
why that was right for that the young person at the time. Anna told
us "…some psychological therapies and medications that have been
found to work for adults have not proved to work as well for
adolescents, with some not even working at all! So further
investigation is needed into what treatments do actually work for
young people so we can help to ensure they get the best treatment
for their mental health problems."
On the site there are links that allow the user to "Share what
works 4 U" and "Learn from others". By clicking on "Learn from
others" you can narrow your search to a specific mental health
problem, the minimum and maximum age, gender, and location. Once
your specifics are listed a web of different treatments appears
that stem from psychological to medical to self help and more. A
user can read about the different treatments that are available for
their specific mental health problem, read about the side effects
of each treatment and then see a rating out of five stars according
to the reported users of the treatment.
Since its creation in May of 2011 the site has already received
over 1000 visitors with over 250 users sharing what has worked for
them. Orygen Youth Health's goal is to continue to grow the site
globally through word of mouth, social media and a scientific
report they are writing on their findings. Currently the most
accessed part of the site is the "learn from others" page, where
generalised anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder have
posted the most treatments.
This site could be beneficial to young people and professionals
because it allows them to see what is working for other people and
to explore the options available for young people seeking help on
mental health issues. Health care professionals can see firsthand
what is working for young people and what is not. For those
providing mental health care, this allows us to better adjust our
practice to be accessible and beneficial for the young people we
are working with. For support workers who want to refer young
people to appropriate pathways of care, this site provides an
As Anna states: "Exploring the website alongside the young
person is especially useful in including the young person in
treatment decision making, facilitating the shared decision-making
process between the young person and the professional."
WhatWorks4U.org allows young people be able to see the variety of
different options that are out there and in turn hopefully allow
them to find a treatment that works for them.
Do you know where to refer young people for appropriate
mental health care? Or do you worry that you don't know what you're
referring young people to? Take a tour of WhatWorks4U.org and share
your experiences / insight below!
Interested in the sorts of therapeutic tools you can use
with young people? Check out the Reviews of Therapeutic Tools
section of ReachOut Pro