Aim: To identify key predictors and moderators of mental health 'help-seeking behavior' in adolescents.
Background: Mental illness is highly prevalent in adolescents and young adults; however, individuals in this demographic group are among the least likely to seek help for such illnesses. Very little quantitative research has examined predictors of help-seeking behaviour in this demographic group.
Design: A cross-sectional design was used.
Methods: A group of 180 volunteers between the ages of 17-25 completed a survey designed to measure hypothesized predictors and moderators of help-seeking behaviour. Predictors included a range of health beliefs, personality traits and attitudes. Data were collected in August 2010 and were analysed using two standard and three hierarchical multiple regression analyses.
Findings: The standard multiple regression analyses revealed that extraversion, perceived benefits of seeking help, perceived barriers to seeking help and social support were direct predictors of help-seeking behaviour. Tests of moderated relationships (using hierarchical multiple regression analyses) indicated that perceived benefits were more important than barriers in predicting help-seeking behaviour. In addition, perceived susceptibility did not predict help-seeking behaviour unless individuals were health conscious to begin with or they believed that they would benefit from help.
Conclusion: A range of personality traits, attitudes and health beliefs can predict help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems in adolescents. The variable 'Perceived Benefits' is of particular importance as it is: (1) a strong and robust predictor of help-seeking behaviour; and (2) a factor that can theoretically be modified based on health promotion programmes.
Keywords: adolescent health; health promotion; health psychology; mental health; nursing; quantitative approaches.
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.