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Young Adolescents’ Help Seeking Behaviors and Attitudes: An Examination of an Underserved Community

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Abstract

Young adolescents’ endorsement of help-seeking and reported levels of connectedness are vital for culturally-tailored prevention initiatives. There is a dearth of information on how younger adolescents attending middle schools (ages 11–15) obtain help from trusted adults, especially among Hispanics. This is problematic as Hispanics, especially female high school students, have consistently reported higher rates of depression and suicidal behaviors for over 30 years. This pilot study included 72 young adolescents (86% Hispanic) in Central Texas. Surprisingly, although there were significant gender and age differences, no group strongly endorsed seeking help during times of distress. Yet, females were more likely to report that they would talk to a counselor or other adult at school when distressed compared to males. While no gender differences were found endorsing trusted adults as helpful, younger female adolescents held higher beliefs these individuals could help during times of distress. What is most pivotal is that this study suggests that changes in help seeking attitudes can occur from one grade to another. Therefore, early adolescence, instead of the more common period of high school, might be a critical time to offer upstream mental health prevention approaches.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Funding: This work was supported by a grant from the St. David’s Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research in Underserved Populations.

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Correspondence to Susan M. De Luca.

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De Luca, S.M., Lim, J. & Yueqi, Y. Young Adolescents’ Help Seeking Behaviors and Attitudes: An Examination of an Underserved Community. Child Adolesc Soc Work J 36, 599–607 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10560-019-00604-z

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