Gender and self-reported mental health problems: predictors of help seeking from a general practitioner

Br J Health Psychol. 2010 Feb;15(Pt 1):213-28. doi: 10.1348/135910709X457423. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Objectives: Findings have shown that many people do not seek help when experiencing psychological distress. The main aim of this paper is to examine the socio-demographic and health status factors that predict help seeking for self-reported mental health problems for males and females from a general practitioner (GP).

Design: The analysis used data from the HRB National Psychological Wellbeing and Distress Survey - a telephone survey of the population aged 18 years and over.

Methods: Telephone numbers were selected on a random probability basis. An initial set of random clusters was selected from the Geodirectory. Using these sampling areas, random digit dialling was used to generate a random telephone sample. Data were weighted on key variables. Respondents who reported mental health problems in the previous year were included in the current study (382/2,674).

Results: The findings showed gender differences in the models of predictors between males and females with more factors influencing attendance at the GP for males than for females. While only social limitations and access to free health care predicted female attendance, a range of socio-demographic and psychological factors influenced male attendance.

Conclusions: Findings suggest that a 'gender sensitive approach' should be applied to mental health policies and mental health promotion and prevention programmes. Acknowledgement and awareness of the factors that influence help seeking will aid the design of gender specific promotion, prevention, and treatment programmes at primary care level.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family*
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Self Disclosure*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult