Adolescents who need help the most are the least likely to seek it: the realtionship between low emotional competence and low intention to seek help
It has been found that university students who were the least skilled at managing their emotions also had the lowest intention of seeking help from a variety of nonprofessional sources (e.g. family and friends). The present study sought to extend these findings by focusing on adolescents, examining a larger number of emotional competencies, and exploring the possibility that social support explains the relationship between emotional competence and help-seeking. A total of 137 adolescents (aged 16-18) completed an anonymous survey that assessed social support, emotional competencies, and intention to seek help from a variety of professional and nonprofessional sources. As expected, adolescents who were low in emotional awareness, and who were poor at identifying, describing, and managing their emotions, were the least likely to seek help from nonprofessional sources and had the highest intention of refusing help from everyone. However, low emotional competence was not related to intention to seek help from professional sources (e.g. mental health professionals). The significant results involving nonprofessional sources were only partially explained by social support, suggesting that even adolescents who had high quality support were less likely to make use of that support if they were low in emotional competence.