Young people's mental health first aid intentions and beliefs prospectively predict their actions: findings from an Australian National Survey of Youth

Psychiatry Res. 2012 Apr 30;196(2-3):315-9. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.10.004. Epub 2012 Feb 28.


Little is known about whether mental health first aid knowledge and beliefs of young people actually translate into actual behavior. This study examined whether young people's first aid intentions and beliefs predicted the actions they later took to help a close friend or family member with a mental health problem. Participants in a 2006 national survey of Australian youth (aged 12-25 years) reported on their first aid intentions and beliefs based on one of four vignettes: depression, depression with alcohol misuse, psychosis, and social phobia. At a two-year follow-up interview, they reported on actions they had taken to help any family member or close friend with a problem similar to the vignette character since the initial interview. Of the 2005 participants interviewed at follow-up, 608 reported knowing someone with a similar problem. Overall, young people's first aid intentions and beliefs about the helpfulness of particular first aid actions predicted the actions they actually took to assist a close other. However, the belief in and intention to encourage professional help did not predict subsequent action. Findings suggest that young people's mental health first aid intentions and beliefs may be valid indicators of their subsequent actions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Culture*
  • Female
  • First Aid / methods*
  • First Aid / statistics & numerical data
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Young Adult