Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Introduction to adolescent mental health
Introduction to adolescent mental health

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.1 Helplines

COVID-19 has severely restricted people’s ability to engage in face-to-face support. However, as many young people now commonly use social media platforms to communicate with their peers, it is possible to harness these skills to encourage them to engage with other sources of support. There are now lots of ways for young people to reach out for support using technology. In the next activity, you will consider some of them.

Activity 8: Exploring sources of support through technology

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Think about a young person you know and if you can, ask them about the different kinds of support they have accessed so far. Tick the one you feel is the most useful or important. There are no right or wrong answers here. Your response will feed into a poll so that you’ll be able to see which kinds of support young people most commonly access amongst learners of this course.

Active content not displayed. This content requires JavaScript to be enabled.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


How did your answer compare to those of your fellow learners? Perhaps you were surprised at how acceptable these forms of support are now. Or perhaps you are well versed with these alternatives to online services. Studies now show that people are increasingly accepting electronic communication to help with their mental health distress. This is particularly the case with the onset of COVID-19 which has pushed the issue further, forcing many organisations online and improving the ways in which they are used.

Whatever your attitudes towards online sources of support, it is now hard to ignore the potential value of the peer support and a feeling of connectedness it offers. Given that young people are enthusiastic users of mobile apps, there is growing interest in developing digital methods of connecting young people to sources of help from both peers and professionals (Bohleber et al., 2016). Easton and colleagues (2017) have discussed the distinction between improvements from a medical perspective of mental health in contrast to ‘social connectedness, personal empowerment, and quality of life’. Fortuna and colleagues (2019) see online peer support as potentially complementary to medical interventions.

There is still much to learn about the value of online networks, but it is important to realise the wide variation in the nature of online support and if a young person is finding it helpful, that may be the most important consideration.