Background: In order to improve help seeking by young people for mental illness, a better understanding is required of their help-seeking intentions and barriers to their help seeking from various different sources and for different disorders.
Methods: Young people's help-seeking intentions and perceived barriers to help seeking were assessed by a national telephone survey of 3021 youths aged 15-25 years. Respondents were presented with a vignette of a young person portraying depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, depression with alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, social phobia, or psychosis.
Results: Embarrassment or shyness was the most frequently mentioned barrier to seeking help from most sources. However, different barriers featured prominently depending on the disorder and the helper. Age, sex, and knowing a family member or friend who had received professional help for mental illness predicted some barriers.
Limitations: Help-seeking intentions and barriers were assessed with reference to a vignette character and may not reflect actual experience or behaviors.
Conclusions: Findings can facilitate the targeting of future efforts to improve young people's help seeking for mental disorders by highlighting the barriers that are more relevant for specific disorders, sources of help and personal characteristics.
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