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About Us

Who we are

We developed Keep it Real with a team of psychologists, researchers, designers and developers at the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. The program was written by Professors Leanne Hides and David Kavanagh based on our evidence-based work in the treatment of substance use and mental health problems in young people. Program content was also informed by a self-help book for people with weird experiences written by Professor Anthony Morrison from the University of Manchester. Our passion for accessible, simple and effective online support programs led to the creation of Keep it Real.

About Keep it Real

We tried to make this program as simple, informative and helpful as possible. It was created with continuous input and guidance from young people.

Keep it Real aims to help young people identify, understand and manage weird experiences. Users first complete a brief survey on weird experiences and are then provided with personal feedback on how their responses compare to other young people. A number of simple strategies for managing stress and reducing weird experiences are then offered.

Cannabis and other drug users can explore how their substance use may be influencing their weird experiences, and are offered some strategies for managing this. Keep it Real is not pro or anti-substance use and does not judge anyone for their choice of substance use. We aim to provide free, 24/7 information and support to anybody who needs it.

Research and development

In 2016 we conducted a study to assess the effectiveness of Keep it Real, with 213 young cannabis users who reported weird thoughts, feelings and experiences.

  • Young people rated the program as helpful, relevant, informative and engaging and said they would recommend it to their friends. Overall participants gave the program a rating 3.7 out of 5 stars  
  • Three and six months after using the program, participants reported significant reductions in the frequency of:
    • weird experiences and related-distress
    • cannabis use and related problems

We hope you also find Keep it Real helpful and enjoy using it. We are continuously working to make Keep it Real better and improve its effectiveness. Feel free to send us your thoughts, suggestions and advice. You can email us at:

Leanne Hides & David Kavanagh