Adolescent opinions about reducing help-seeking barriers and increasing appropriate help engagement
Effective mental illness prevention programs are important for the safety of youth and adolescents. Research suggests that programs should facilitate appropriate help seeking by lowering help-seeking barriers. This study used focus groups to obtain high school student opinions about actual help-seeking behaviors, reducing adolescent help-seeking barriers, raising sensitive issues with adolescents, and increasing appropriate help-source engagement. Transcript analysis revealed several themes. Relationship and trust were key approach factors for current help seeking. Memories of successful prior helping episodes were also important. Education about appropriate help seeking, presented in ways consistent with those currently used by adolescents (e.g., through peer networks), might reduce help-seeking barriers. Education should include key adults who act as gatekeepers within adolescent networks (e.g., parents and teachers). Assertive outreach and follow-up might be important factors for continued help-source engagement. Themes provide a basis for suggestions about ways to facilitate adolescent help seeking and maintain appropriate help-source engagement.