First online wellbeing program for gay and lesbian youth

Thursday 21 August 2014

A low angle photograph of Swinburne University of Technology signage on the Advanced Technologies Centre building in Hawthorn.

The first online mental health program specially designed for the needs of gay and lesbian youth aged 18-25 years has been developed.

Out & Online (www.outandonline.org.au), funded by beyondblue, was created by a team of researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Federation University Australia and Deakin University, in consultation with mental health experts and same-gender attracted youth.

The program is based on scientifically tested psychological treatments and designed to improve wellbeing and reduce symptoms of worry, stress and sadness.

Lead researcher, Dr Jo Abbott from the National eTherapy Centre (NeTC) at Swinburne, has highlighted the need for this type of program. 

“Research has shown that same-gender attracted young adults experience higher rates of mental health problems when compared to their opposite-gender attracted peers.

“This has been strongly linked to experiences of discrimination resulting from homophobic attitudes present within the wider community. These problems are intensified for gay and lesbian youth living in rural areas, where access to relevant information, resources and services can be even more challenging,” said Dr Abbott.

The internet has the potential to make mental health assistance more appealing and accessible for young adults, however existing online programs have not been relevant to the needs of same-gender attracted young adults.

This research trial will help lead to improvements in access to mental health services for gay and lesbian youth.

“An essential part of developing this innovative program was getting valuable feedback from same-gender attracted young adults about what their mental health needs were.

“We want to continue to improve the program over time so it is shaped by the people who use it,” said Dr Abbott.

The Out & Online program is available free of charge as part of a research trial, and feedback from the trial will be used to improve the program. It will then be made more widely available as part of Swinburne’s online mental health clinic, Mental Health Online

Young adults 18-25 years who are same-gender attracted can participate in the research trial by registering on the program website www.outandonline.org.au.

For further information contact Dr Jo Abbott on (03) 9214 5866, email contactus@outandonline.org.au or visit us on Facebook www.facebook.com/outandonline or YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/user/OutandOnline.