Journal of Clinical Geropsychology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 175-185

First online:

Perceptions of Responsibility and Mental Health Help-Seeking Among Psychologically Distressed Older Adults

  • Arie HadasAffiliated withDepartment of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Columbia University
  • , Elizabeth MidlarskyAffiliated withDepartment of Counseling and Clinical Psychology, Columbia University

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This study explored the perceptions of responsibility for the cause and the solution of problems and the models of helping (or helping orientations) characterizing a sample of 319 community-dwelling, psychologically distressed older adults. All participants were referred for psychotherapy and had either accepted or rejected their referrals. We investigated whether the models distinguished acceptors and rejecters of psychotherapy referrals and whether they were differentially associated with help-seeking from nontherapist helpers. Results indicated that the preponderance of respondents subscribed to the moral and compensatory models. The compensatory model was associated with rejection of referrals, whereas the moral model was associated with increased help-seeking both from mental health professionals and from other formal and informal helpers. Implications of the findings for promoting older adults' utilization of mental health services are discussed.

older adults mental health help-seeking perceived responsibility