Year

2004

Degree Name

Doctor of Psycology(Clinical)

Department

Department of Psychology

Abstract

Gatekeeper training programs that promote help-seeking have been recommended as key mental health and suicide intervention strategies for adults who work with young people. Extensive research suggests that young people do not seek the help they need for mental health issues, and may be reliant on adult gatekeepers to facilitate help-seeking. Further, some research suggests that gatekeepers may not be positively predisposed to seek professional help themselves, and may even have the same barriers as young people to seeking help for mental health issues. This study investigated the personal help-seeking practice of 73 youth workers who attended gatekeeper workshops that incorporated training in awareness of personal help-seeking as well as help-seeking among young people. Personal help-seeking, including perceived barriers, intentions, actual help-seeking behaviours and social problem solving skills were examined prior to, and after a workshop intervention. The relationships between help-seeking variables and referral skill were also explored to investigate the impact that personal help-seeking may have on youth workers' professional practice. Pre-post workshop measures revealed that actual help-seeking behaviour, intentions to seek help for a personal-emotional problem, and social problem solving skill significantly increased, while there were no changes in perceived barriers, or intentions to seek help for suicidal thoughts. Compared to a control group, the workshop group reported significantly higher intentions to seek help for a personal-emotional problem knowledge of help-seeking and social problem solving skill, and lower perceived barriers. There were no differences in referral skill pre-to-post workshop, or in intervention and control group comparisons. Results suggest that the workshop intervention influenced awareness and skills of personal help-seeking, although the relationship with referral skill was unclear. The study is discussed in the context of research that suggests that personal emotional functioning and attitudinal barriers toward mental health services are factors that may influence professional service provision.

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