The mental health needs of adolescents often go unmet, in part due to a high
proportion of adolescents choosing not to seek help even when services are available.
In order to ensure those in need receive services, there is a need for a better
understanding of factors that influence an individual's decision to seek help. The
present study aimed to identify the impact of beliefs and attitudes towards seeking and
receiving help on professional psychological help seeking intentions in adolescents. A
secondary aim was to begin to address the developmental trajectory of such attitudes
and the role of one possible influence on their development, parental attitudes.
517 adolescent high school pupils aged 13-18 years and their parents were
administered three measures of attitudes and beliefs relating to help seeking: the
Barriers to Adolescent Help Seeking-Revised (BASH-B), the Attitudes Towards
Seeking Professional Psychological Help (ATSPPH-B), and the 5 Item Stigma Scale
for Receiving Psychological Help (SSRPH) in addition to a measure of willingness to
seek help for personal-emotional problems, the General Help Seeking Questionnaire
Regression techniques were used in order to determine the predictive value of the
independent variables on willingness to seek help. Holding more positive attitudes
towards seeking psychological help and receiving psychological help, holding fewer
perceived barriers to help seeking, and having a history of help seeking were related
to greater willingness to seek help from formal sources. Holding fewer perceived
barriers to help seeking, having a history of help seeking and being female were
related to greater willingness to seek help from informal sources.
Correlational techniques were employed to determine the relationship between age
and the variables of interest. No relationship was found between age and beliefs and
attitudes towards seeking and receiving help. An association was found between age
and total help seeking intentions for all sources indicating that as age increased,
intention to seek help decreased. Age and help seeking intentions for formal sources
were negatively correlated, therefore as age increased, help seeing intentions for
formal sources decreased. Age and help seeking intentions for informal sources were
not associated. There was no association between adolescent children and their
parents' attitudes towards seeking professional psychological help, receiving
professional psychological help, or level of belief based barriers to help seeking held.
Results were discussed with references to previous findings in the literature and
theoretical implications were highlighted. Strengths and limitations of the study were
discussed. Implications of the findings for attitudinal change programmes, and service
design and development aimed at increasing help seeking were considered.