Skip to main content


Log in

Help seeking for emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents

A review of recent literature

  • Published:
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In order to understand the discrepancy between rates of child and adolescent psychopathology and rates of mental health service use, variables influencing the help-seeking process need to be investigated. The present article aims to extend and refine previous findings by reviewing 47 recent empirical studies on parental and adolescent problem recognition and help seeking, and problem recognition by the general practitioner (GP). Several variables (child age, the presence of medical and school-related problems, informal help seeking, past treatment of parents or relatives, family size, and type of maltreatment) were discovered to influence parental/adolescent problem recognition and/or help seeking,while refinements were found for the effects of type of psychopathology, child gender, adolescent attitudes and personality, parental psychopathology, social support, and sociodemographic variables. Although recent studies uncovered several determinants of problem recognition by the GP (child gender, age, past treatment, academic problems, family composition, life events, type of visit, and acquaintance with child), this aspect of the help-seeking pathway remains relatively uncharted and, therefore, needs to be the focus of future research.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Zwaanswijk, M., Verhaak, P.F.M., Bensing, J.M. et al. Help seeking for emotional and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry 12, 153–161 (2003).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words