Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 48, Issue 6, pp 1056–1067 | Cite as

Parental Authoritativeness, Social Support and Help-seeking for Mental Health Problems in Adolescents

  • Michelle Maiuolo
  • Frank P. DeaneEmail author
  • Joseph Ciarrochi
Empirical Research


Adolescents experience high rates of mental health problems but are reluctant to seek professional help. Parents play an integral role in the help seeking process for their adolescent children. Parental authoritativeness and support have been identified as contributing to better mental health outcomes and a reduction in help seeking barriers in their children. The current study examined the influence of parental authoritativeness and support on help seeking intentions and behaviors in 1582 students (49% female) in 17 schools (mean age = 17.7, range 16–18). All data was available for 1032 participants across two time points collected one year apart. Concurrent indices of positive parenting were associated with greater help seeking intentions from professional sources, even when gender and psychological distress were controlled. Parental authoritativeness and parental support did not predict actual help seeking assessed one year later. The study highlights the potential role of parents in influencing help seeking and suggests further research is needed on other parent variables and the social antecedents to help-seeking.


Authors’ Contributions

All authors conceived the study. FD and JC were involved in study design. JC was responsible for coordinating data collection. MM and FD performed the statistical analysis. All authors were involved in interpretation of data. MM provided the first draft of the manuscript and all authors were involved in subsequent drafts. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This research was partially funded by grants from the Australian Research Council (DP110100989, DP140103874, DE140100080).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The research was reviewed by the University institutional Human Research Ethics Committee (HE10158).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Statement of ethics

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Psychology, Illawarra Institute for Mental HealthUniversity of WollongongWollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Positive Psychology & EducationAustralian Catholic UniversityStrathfieldAustralia

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