, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 292-299,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 Apr 2012

The Role of Maternal Perceptions and Ethnic Background in the Mental Health Help-Seeking Pathway of Adolescent Girls


Mothers play a crucial role in the help-seeking pathway of adolescents. This study examined how mothers with different ethnic backgrounds perceive the issue of help-seeking for internalizing problems (e.g. depression) in adolescent girls. Seven focus group discussions were conducted with 41 Dutch, Moroccan and Turkish mothers with a teenage daughter. Discussions were conceptually framed within a model of help-seeking and facilitated by a vignette. The internalizing problems sketched in the vignette were recognized as severe nonetheless; identified long term consequences varied per ethnic group. Negative attitudes towards General Practitioners, inaccessible mental health services and denial by daughters would hamper help-seeking. Fear of negative judgments/gossiping was considered a barrier by Turkish and Moroccan participants. Participants identified themselves and schools as primary sources of help. Turkish participants also named chaplains. To enhance utilization of mental health services by (minority) youth it is important to also address maternal barriers.