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New Research Reveals How Young People Engage With Mental Health Apps and Online Therapy

Findings show that young people from communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community, or those who already have symptoms of moderate to severe depression are especially reliant on online tools

SAN FRANCISCO, June 18, 2024 – Today, Common Sense Media and Hopelab published a new research report, “Getting Help Online: How Young People Find, Evaluate, and Use Mental Health Apps, Online Therapy, and Behavioral Health Information.” The study explores how young people are using online tools like social media, teletherapy, and apps to manage their mental health and well-being.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Online Resources Are a Vital Lifeline: With in-person care and support often difficult to access, many young people are turning to online resources for their behavioral health needs. Of the young people surveyed, 65% have searched online for any behavioral health topics, and 53% say they have looked for mental health information from health-focused websites. The availability of these digital resources provides crucial support for those seeking assistance and practical information.

  • Youth are Vetting Information: Contrary to media trends suggesting a prevalence of uninformed self-diagnosis among young people, the report found 89% of respondents sometimes, often or always consider the trustworthiness of an online source, one piece of a series of steps most youth take to vet the mental health information they find online. They are checking the web and social media content they both search for and encounter, working to ensure they access reliable and beneficial resources.

  • Increased Reliance Among Underserved Communities: Young people from communities of color, the LGBTQ+ community, and those experiencing moderate to severe depression are particularly reliant on digital self-help tools. According to the data, Latino young people were more likely to report accessing online therapy than their White peers (34% vs. 23% ) and LGBTQ+ young people are about twice as likely as their non-LGBTQ+ peers to report ever having attended online therapy.

  • Need for High-Quality and Accessible Resources: The report underscores the importance of making mental health resources as high-quality and easily accessible as possible, ensuring young people can receive the support they need.

“As we look for solutions to address our youth mental health crisis, apps, teletherapy and online resources are front and center for states and school districts as ways to offer behavioral health support for young people,” said Amanda Lenhart, Head of Research at Common Sense Media. “It’s critical that we understand who uses these tools and how effective they are as we work to expand access to broadband internet, close digital equity gaps, and ensure that all communities can find help online.” 

Social media is an important source of mental health information, and tech-savvy young people are taking extra steps to verify the information they find,” said Amy Green, Head of Research at Hopelab. “Our findings point to the necessity of evidence-based online mental health content for Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ young people.”

The report is the fourth in a series that tracks the role of social media in how young people ages 14-22 support their mental health and well-being. Conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, the study was uniquely co-created with young people themselves, who not only provided direction and input regarding survey content but also worked with the research team to prioritize and interpret results through focus groups and individual interviews.

More details on the methodology and a copy of the full report and findings can be downloaded at




About Hopelab
Hopelab is a transformative social innovation lab and impact investor working to support the mental well-being of adolescents, ages 10-25, especially BIPOC and LGBTQ+ youth. Through targeted social impact investments, youth-centered design and research support, and translational science partnerships, the organization leverages 20+ years of co-creation experience to influence systems change while centering health equity. Learn more at

About Common Sense Media
Common Sense is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive. Our ratings, research, and resources reach approximately 150 million users worldwide and 1.2 million educators per year. Learn more at

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