Background; Adolescent mental illness is of increasing concern, with prevalence increasing especially in females in the United Kingdom. While service-related barriers can deter help-seeking, the role of family support and engagement in family activities, and attitudes towards seeking help from a doctor has received little attention. Studies exploring help-seeking from family and medical practitioners have done so without incorporating theories of behaviour change. This study aims to develop a model of adolescent help-seeking using the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB). Method; A cross-sectional survey of 1639 male and females aged 13-17 years in Northern Ireland. Structural Equation Modelling determined fit for TBP factors, with the addition of gender, experience of mental health issues, and engagement in family activities. Results; The Structural Equation Model suggests an adequate description of the relationships between TPB variables [χ2(639) = 8302.36, p < .001; RMSEA = 0.09; SRMR = 0.06; CFI = 0.92; IFI = 0.92], with significant variance (R2) of up to 61% (Intentions to Seek Help from Family) and 24% (Intention to Seek Help from Medical Professionals) explained. Males (compared to females) reported a more supportive family life, fewer mental health problems, more trust in doctors, less prosocial behaviour, more confidence discussing mental health with a doctor, and greater intentions to seek family or medical professional help when having emotional/mental health problems. Conclusions; When supporting adolescent’s gender, engagement with family and trust in doctors should be considered, especially where they have experienced mental health issues and may be less willing to seek help.
- Mental health
- General practitioners