General News Research Sector News — 20 December 2013
Young people heading online for support over Christmas, survey reveals

Young Australians will be heading online to escape pressures and find support over the holiday season, the third annual headspace Christmas survey has revealed.

The survey of 526 young people aged 12-25, shows the vast majority who find Christmas and the holiday season difficult to handle, will turn online to help them cope.

An increasingly large number of young people (72 per cent) said tension between family members makes them feel negative about Christmas (up from 65 per cent in 2012, and 58 per cent in 2011), while almost one in three of respondents said it made them feel lonely.

Of those facing feelings of depression and loneliness at Christmas, 90 per cent said they will go online to find support.

Chris Tanti, CEO of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace, said he isn’t surprised that young people are finding solace online.

“There’s often a lot of negativity associated with young people being online, particularly on social media, but it’s clear they’re using the online space in many ways, including a tool to cope with difficult situations.”

“More than 32,000 young people are registered for our online service eheadspace. This popularity coupled with the survey results show us that online is where young people feel comfortable.”Help on keyboard

“It’s the way they’re communicating in all facets of their lives, so they expect support services to be available there as well,” said Mr Tanti.

The survey showed that Christmas makes 27 per cent of young people feel worse than usual and 20 per cent feel depressed by the holiday season.

The survey also showed an increasing number of young people (18 per cent) would be relieved if Christmas was cancelled – up from 16 per cent in 2012.

Mr Tanti said that parents need to be aware that the holiday season can be difficult for a number of reasons and young people are more vulnerable than they might think.

“The holiday season can be really disruptive for young people and families – normal routine goes out the window without the structure of school, there can be financial pressures and young people don’t get to hang out with their friends as often.”

“eheadspace will continue to operate all the way through the Christmas period, so there’s somewhere for young people and parents to turn to if they aren’t coping,” said Mr Tanti.

The survey also found:
•87 per cent say there are things that make them feel negative about Christmas
•38 per cent say Christmas makes them feel worried
•32 per cent say not being around their friends makes them feel negative about Christmas.

This article first appeared on ‘ headspace’ on 20 December 2013.

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