Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 495–507

Adolescents' Willingness to Seek Psychological Help: Promoting and Preventing Factors


  • Jeanie K. Sheffield
    • School of PsychologyThe University of Queensland
  • Erika Fiorenza
  • Kate Sofronoff
    • School of PsychologyThe University of Queensland

DOI: 10.1023/B:JOYO.0000048064.31128.c6

Cite this article as:
Sheffield, J.K., Fiorenza, E. & Sofronoff, K. Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2004) 33: 495. doi:10.1023/B:JOYO.0000048064.31128.c6


Although a relatively high percentage of Australian adolescents experience mental health problems, many disturbed adolescents do not receive the help they require, and only a small proportion of adolescents seek professional psychological help. The present study examined adolescents' willingness to seek help and investigated factors that promote and prevent adolescents from seeking help for a mental illness from both formal and informal sources. Secondary school students (254 in number) from schools in Brisbane, Australia completed a questionnaire that examined the relationship between demographic and psychological variables, attitudes toward mental illness, and willingness to seek help for a mental illness. Results suggest that adolescents with greater adaptive functioning, fewer perceived barriers to help seeking, and higher psychological distress were more willing to seek help from formal and informal sources for a mental illness. Greater social support also predicted willingness to seek help from informal sources. Although attitudes toward mental illness did not influence willingness to seek help, less stigmatising attitudes were related to higher knowledge of mental illness, being female, and higher levels of social support. Implications for the present study focus on enhancing the ability of mental health interventions to increase adolescents' willingness to seek psychological help.

adolescentshelp seekingbarriersmental health literacy

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004