Help-seeking for mental health problems among young physicians: is it the most ill that seeks help? - A longitudinal and nationwide study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2004 Dec;39(12):989-93. doi: 10.1007/s00127-004-0831-8.


Objectives: The aims of this study were to assess the prevalence of self-reported mental health problems and help-seeking among young physicians, and identify predictors of seeking help.

Methods: A prospective cohort sample of Norwegian medical students (N = 631) were assessed in their final semester (T1), and in the first (T2) and fourth (T3) postgraduate year. The average observation period was 3.6 years.

Results: The prevalence of mental health problems that needed treatment over the preceding year was observed to have increased from 11% at T2 to 17% at T3. There was no increase in help-seeking. Longitudinally, 34% reported that they needed treatment on one or several occasions. Adjusted predictors of help-seeking were perceived level of mental health problems and a reality weakness personality trait.

Conclusion: Those who sought help had higher levels of emotional distress than those who did not. However, higher reality weakness scores predicted lower help-seeking and, therefore, may be a risk factor for avoiding necessary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency / statistics & numerical data
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Norway
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care* / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician Impairment / psychology*
  • Physician Impairment / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Students, Medical / psychology
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data