Accessing Mental Health Support: Where do Young Adults Seek Help and what Barriers do they Face?
Over half of all lifetime mental health disorders emerge during early adulthood and is associated with many adverse outcomes including: lower educational achievement, substance misuse and premature death. Despite the prevalence and burden of mental health problems, young adults with mental health needs are the least likely to seek professional help. This study aimed to gain a better understanding of help-seeking among young adults aged 18-25 and aimed to identify the factors that can delay or prevent access to mental health support. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected from young adults in the community using an anonymous online survey. The results of the study showed that approximately a third of participants did not seek any help for an emotional or mental health difficulty and of those who sought help the majority had accessed help from their friends or their GP. Intention to seek professional help was significantly association with satisfaction from services and perceived stigma, however psychological distress revealed a non-significant relationship. Thematic analysis revealed that stigmatising beliefs, perceiving the problem as not serious, a preference for self-reliance and difficulty in accessing help or communicating concerns were common barrier themes. Facilitator themes highlighted the importance of having a flexible and confidential service. The clinical implications of the results are discussed as well as consideration for future research.
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