Formal Help-Seeking Behavior of Adolescents Identifying Themselves as Having Mental Health Problems


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    In response to evidence of poorly met mental health needs, a study of formal help-seeking behavior of adolescents was conducted. Responses (n = 17,193) to a school-based survey were examined. Overall, 24.9% identified themselves as having a serious problem. Students who felt they “needed professional help” were contrasted to those who did not. Among students who felt they needed help, those who did not seek it were contrasted to those who did. Deciding professional help was needed was most strongly associated with history of abuse, physical health, suicidal ideation, and gender. Obtaining help was associated with suicidal ideation, informal help-seeking behavior, the interaction between race and socioeconomic status, parental marital status, and having a checkup within the previous year. This study establishes that different factors influence adolescents' identifying a need and actually obtaining help.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)718-728
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - 1994

    Bibliographical note

    Funding Information:
    Accepted August 25, 1993. Dr. Saunders is a psychologist, Department ofPsychiatry, Dr. Resnick is Associate Proftssor, Adolescent Health Program and School ofPublic Health, Dr. Hoberman is Assistant Professor, Division ofChild and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Dr. Blum is Director of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University ofMinnesota, Minneapolis. This paper waspreparedat the University ofMinnesota while Dr. Saunders was afellow in the Adolescent Health Program. Part ofthis paper was presented at the Society for Psychotherapy Research Annual Meeting in San Francisco, 01, June 1992. This study was supported in part by National Imtitutes ofDisabilities and Rehabilitation Research Training Project grant H133B910004 and the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health grant MCf-213A-03-01 to the National Adolescent Health Resource Center. Reprint requests to Dr. Saunders, Box 393, University ofMinnesota Hospital and Clinics, 420 Delaware Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. 0890-8567/94/3305-0718$03.00/0©1994 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.


    • adolescence
    • help-seeking
    • mental health


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