Attitudes about mental illness and help seeking among adolescent males

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Psychiatry Research


Adolescent males are at particularly high risk of mental health problems and suicide. However, many in need are left undetected and untreated, and rates of help-seeking are low. To help explain this unmet need, the current study aimed to utilise Exploratory Factor Analysis to validate a measure of help-seeking attitudes using 16 items of the Mental Health Literacy Scale. Convergent validity was assessed through correlations of the factors with other measures capturing aspects of mental health literacy and psychological distress. Male adolescent sport participants (N=361) aged between 12 and 18 years participated in the study. The results revealed a distinct four-factor structure: social distance, stigmatising attitudes, confidence accessing information about mental health, and negative help-seeking attitudes. Each factor had satisfactory levels of internal consistency. The patterns of relationships suggest that the four factors may differentiate between important influencers of mental health help-seeking. The measure is brief and is likely to have high utility in measuring attitudes about mental illness and help-seeking among adolescent males. This may have implications for understanding the processes that could influence or improve help-seeking amongst this vulnerable group.

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