Research shows that 75% of mental illness begins before age 25
with one in five children and adolescents diagnosed with a mental
health problem (Kendall & Kessler, 2002). Many of these young
people first start to exhibit symptoms during their time at
Consider also that, while youth suicide rates have declined by
56% since 1997 (ABS 2007), suicide remains one of the leading
causes of death among young people aged 15-24, alongside road and
At the same time, more young people experience high to very high
levels of psychological distress - 13% of males and 19% of
females - and lack of treatment brings major complications
including self-medication with alcohol and drugs, and an inability
to thrive socially, academically and vocationally.
Australian data indicates that only 29% of these young people
contact a professional service of any type (Sawyer et al., 2000).
Of the young people who do access mental health care, only 20%
enter into any type of treatment (Offer et al.,1991).
The Reach Out Teachers
Network aims to increase the understanding of mental health
disorders amongst school staff in order to give them the skills,
knowledge and resources to support students going through a tough
time to access the professional help they need.