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Relaunch of online program to help teens with issues of mental health


Amanda Lyons 27/07/2018 11:57:47 AM

The Black Dog Institute’s BITE BACK program, which is available free to adolescents aged 12–18, has been updated with input from young Australians.

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Black Dog’s BITE BACK program has been relaunched after being updated with input from young people.

Being a teenager has never been easy, but modern young people have to contend with a host of stressors particular to the current milieu.
 
‘Today’s teenagers face specific mental health challenges – peer pressure, cyberbullying, managing relationships, dealing with social media and the impact of social media on their self-esteem,’
Professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, who led a study on Black Dog’s BITE BACK program, said.
 
BITE BACK is a module-based program designed to help adolescents aged 12–18 reduce stress, build resilience, improve relationships and set goals. Developed using evidence from the field and evaluated via a randomised control trial, the program has undergone a recent revamp, incorporating feedback from young Australians involved in the trial.
 
The relaunched program, which will soon be rolled out to schools nationwide, now contains greater elements of interactivity and encourages young people to finish the course with a series of activities, quizzes and stories, all of which culminate in a six-week mental fitness challenge that solidifies the skills and information learnt over the course of the program.
 
Research has shown that adolescents are likely to turn to the internet for information and support when they are facing issues of mental health. They also tend to respond well to online mental health services and apps for a variety of reasons, including accessibility, lack of cost and avoidance of stigma.
 
‘It’s important for teenagers to feel in control of their mental wellbeing and being able to seek out information and learn skills on their own terms online also means they’re often able to seek help earlier before issues progress to a clinical level,’ Professor Manicavasagar said.
 
Despite negative press, online platforms can be beneficial for young people’s mental health as they provide access to help at any time and any place.’
 
Feedback from course participants has been positive.
 
‘I’ve really enjoyed the surveys to make sure I’m doing well, whether that’s to be more grateful or more mindful,’ Scarlett Kendrew, a 12-year-old from Sydney, said.


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