April Featured Service: My Circle

April Featured Service: My Circle

This month our featured service is My Circle, a clinically moderated peer support platform from Kids Helpline offering 24/7 support to young people across Australia. It provides a safe, confidential space to support good mental health among young people.

“My Circle’s unique approach to peer support involves creating a social platform with digital mental health interventions that cater to the many ways that young people seek help, from observation to active participation, to help improve their engagement and outcomes well into the future”. – Dr Pablo Navarro, Kids Helpline

Who are Kids Helpline?

Kids Helpline is a counselling and mental health support service for young people aged 5 to 25 in Australia. They provide phone and online counselling, along with information and tools designed specifically for young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Kids Helpline aims to empower young people by assisting them to; understand and identify their options, how they’re thinking or feeling about their situation, improve relationships with family and friends, and take steps towards improving their wellbeing, which may include connecting with local support services.

About My Circle

My Circle is a secure online social platform developed by Kids Helpline in collaboration with Bupa Foundation and University of Sydney. It provides a free, private, safe and anonymous space for young people to talk to others going through similar challenges, share their thoughts and learn how to better deal with issues.

The platform is supported by clinical moderators safeguard the community within My Circle to make sure they stay safe, supportive, and informative. Members can discuss a range of topics on the platform, in spaces called ‘Circles’. These topics include but are not limited to:

  • Mental health
  • Suicidal thoughts and self-harm
  • The Vibezzz (Chill Zone)
  • Neurodivergence
  • Disability, illness and physical health
  • Substance use and other addictions
  • School and work
  • Body and self-esteem

My Circle clinical moderators facilitate conversations and offer information, skills and group feedback to help members better understand themselves and empower them to make decisions about changes to improve their wellbeing.

Who is My Circle for?

My Circle is designed for young people aged between 12 and 25 years across Australia. The platform caters to those who are experiencing social, emotional and mental health challenges, including people with disability, illness, or a physical health issue, and those who identify as neurodivergent or as part of the LGBTIQAPK+ community.

Benefits of My Circle

My Circle provides a safe space to engage in supportive conversations with peers who are going through similar challenges. It encourages members to address problems on their own, with the support of peers by enabling young people to; share their thoughts, discuss their concerns, better understand what they’re going through, learn ways to better deal with what’s troubling them, with the choice to drive a conversation or sit back and listen.

How can Health Professionals use My Circle?

My Circle is designed as an early intervention service that seeks to circumvent the risk of issues leading to mental ill health by intervening early in its course. This is done by offering multiple support pathways that cater to different styles of help-seeking and allowing for early identification and support of members experiencing crises, abuse, or complex mental health.

My Circle can be used as part of blended care in conjunction with traditional therapy to help the young person connect with others who have gone through a similar experience in a safe environment. Alternatively, My Circle could function as an option for a one-off referral, waitlist or discharge option facilitated by its built-in safeguarding features.

Is there a cost to use My Circle?

My Circle is free to access and use and is available 24/7.

How to access My Circle

Young people can sign up to access My Circle by completing an online sign up form here. They will then receive a confirmation email for off-platform communication purposes and a link to create a profile on the platform.

Once their profile is approved by clinical moderators, members can access the My Circle platform from any browser on their mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

My Circle Research and Evaluation

My Circle follows evidence-based guidelines, incorporating the mental health model of care and user safety features, and has been evaluated in multi-stage research. Results indicate that My Circle is a positive, safe, and empowering experience for the majority of members – which they would recommend to others. Over half of members report improvements in their depression and distress and report learning new coping skills, a reduction in stigma, and being more willing to seek help in the future. Members with complex mental ill health, do not initially report improvements, but longer length of time in the community is associated with feeling safer, reductions in stigma, learning new coping skills, greater awareness of services, and improved mental wellbeing.

Read the published results of the exploratory analysis on My Circle here:

‘A Customized Social Network Platform (Kids Helpline Circles) for Delivering Group Counselling to Young People Experiencing Family Discord That Impacts Their Well-Being: Exploratory Study’