When and how do young people seek professional help for mental health problems?

Med J Aust. 2007 Oct 1;187(S7):S35-9. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01334.x.


Despite the high prevalence of mental health problems and disorders that develop in adolescence and early adulthood, young people tend to not seek professional help. Young men and young people from Indigenous and ethnic minority groups tend to be those most reluctant to seek help. Young people are more inclined to seek help for mental health problems if they: have some knowledge about mental health issues and sources of help; feel emotionally competent to express their feelings; and have established and trusted relationships with potential help providers. Young people are less likely to seek help if they: are experiencing suicidal thoughts and depressive symptoms; hold negative attitudes toward seeking help or have had negative past experiences with sources of help; or hold beliefs that they should be able to sort out their own mental health problems on their own. Young people may seek help through talking to their family and friends, with family being more important for younger adolescents, and friends and partners becoming more influential later on. The professionals most likely to act as gatekeepers to mental health services for young people are school counsellors, general practitioners, and youth workers. Increasingly, Internet-based information and interventions are being used to engage young people in the help-seeking process.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adolescent Health Services
  • Family Practice
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Parents
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Peer Group
  • Schools
  • Trust