ReachOut Ireland today launched Ireland’s first ever good practice guide for online mental health supports, in the Dublin offices of corporate partner Nitro.

The first of its kind, Technology, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Ireland: A Good Practice Guide, is an important resource for new and established mental health organisations interested in using technology to reach people in need of support.

The CSO recently report that 459 deaths by suicide were recorded in 2014, with one in three of those occurring among people under 35 years-old. Given that many people experiencing distress will now go online as a first step towards getting help, online mental health information and support is fast-becoming an essential public service.

ReachOut Ireland, a service which helps young people through tough times, was funded by the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention to develop the good practice guide to direct the safe delivery of online mental health support.

In Ireland, many services have already developed to meet a growing public demand for mental health information and support online. Online services allow individuals to gain the knowledge and confidence that they need to bring private concerns towards solutions. With the opportunity technology provides comes considerable responsibility.

PracticeGuideLaunch

ReachOut Ireland CEO Elaine Geraghty

The development of this guide has been informed by a recent survey of organisations working in the sector which found that most online services have had to respond to very serious communications of distress online. That survey found that 77% of online services in Ireland have escalated communications of distress to emergency services, typically to An Garda Siochána.

Technology, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Ireland: A Good Practice Guide, incorporates the latest information on data protection and privacy policies; moderation policy and crisis response guidelines. It also informs the public what to look out for when reviewing online resources.

In developing the guidelines, ReachOut Ireland identified the online services already exist in Ireland, showcased examples both in Ireland and internationally and collated existing relevant guidelines and policies. This work informed an overarching document providing a good practice guide for the provision of mental health information, peer-support and online therapy.

Since launching in Ireland, ReachOut.com has helped thousands of young people get support through tough times through the provision of quality assured mental health information, expert advice and personal stories.

Technology, Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Ireland: A Good Practice Guide is available for download at reachout.com/guidelines