Research projects

Evaluation of a tailored online same-sex attracted youth-focused trans-diagnostic mental health and wellbeing program ’Out and online’

Principal researchers

Dr Jo Abbott1

Professor Britt Klein2

Associate Professor David Austin3

Associate Professor Suzanne McLaren2

Dr Denny Meyer1

Dr Mari Molloy2

Ms Gemma DeMarco (volunteer consultant)

Professor Michael Kyrios11

Institution

1  Swinburne University of Technology

2  Federation University

3  Deakin University

Funding

$124,857

Award type

beyondblue Victorian Centre of Excellence

Project completion year

2015

Main messages

  • This project resulted in the development of the Out & Online program, one of the first online interventions specifically designed to be relevant for same-sex attracted individuals.
  • The Out & Online program is unique and sophisticated, not only in targeting the mental health needs of same-sex attracted young adults (SSAYA) but in tailoring program content to gender and enabling the simultaneous treatment of multiple mental health problems within one program. This streamlines healthcare for the young person as well as provides inherent acknowledgement of the uniqueness of each user.
  • Out & Online was made relevant for SSAYA by using inclusive language and content (e.g. videos and pictures of people in same-sex relationships), providing examples of stressors, unhelpful thoughts and behaviours unique to challenges associated with being same-sex attracted (e.g. “coming out”, feeling accepted by heterosexual peers), providing information on support services specialising in supporting same-sex attracted individuals and by helping SSAYA to enhance their self-esteem and self-acceptance despite stigma towards non-heterosexual sexual/gender orientations.
  • SSAYA who used Out & Online reported that the program was enjoyable, convenient and easy to use, easy to understand and provided much needed practical help for mental health problems. They felt that the program was unique in specifically reaching out to a same-sex attracted audience.
  • Further work is needed to make the program more engaging, interactive and more compatible with portable devices so that SSAYA feel motivated to seek help for mental health problems.
  • The Out & Online program has the potential to improve access to specialist same-sex attracted relevant mental health services for young adults and to facilitate wellbeing outcomes for these individuals.
  • Recommendations for further development of online programs inclusive of gender and sexual diversity are provided, including using gender inclusive language but not making mental health programs all about sexual orientation; making programs interactive and fun, accessible and portable; and including opportunities for peer interaction and encouragement to use the programs.

Download the final report

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