School Mental Health

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 287–297 | Cite as

Parents’ Barriers to Using School Psychology Services for Their Child’s Mental Health Problems

  • Jeneva L. OhanEmail author
  • Rebecca J. Seward
  • Helen M. Stallman
  • Donna M. Bayliss
  • Matthew R. Sanders
Original Paper


School psychologists are in a key position to be able to address children’s mental health problems, and current models emphasise service provision that collaborates between communities, families, and schools. Thus, it is important to determine what barriers, if any, parents perceive in seeking help from school psychologists when they have a mental health concern for their child. This study aimed to determine: (1) the types of barriers that parents report to engaging in services with school psychologists and (2) the relative frequencies of these barriers. Participants were parents with (n = 100) and without (n = 154) concerns about their child’s emotional well-being or behaviour. For parents with concerns, 26 % had engaged in school psychology services in the past year; 73 of the remaining 74 reported barriers to seeking school psychology care despite their concerns about their child. The majority of parents without concerns (about 80 %) also reported barriers to using school psychology care should they need to. Reported barriers were similar for both groups, with just four categories accounting for the majority of barriers: stigma, lack of school resources, perceptions that school psychology is ineffective, and concerns about lack of confidentiality. For parents reporting no barriers, a strong positive relationship with school staff was key. Specific strategies for school psychology to address these barriers are suggested.


Help-seeking Barriers Schools Mental health Children Stigma 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeneva L. Ohan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rebecca J. Seward
    • 1
  • Helen M. Stallman
    • 2
  • Donna M. Bayliss
    • 1
  • Matthew R. Sanders
    • 3
  1. 1.School of PsychologyThe University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Social Work and Social PolicyThe University of South AustraliaAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.School of PsychologyThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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