Title

Navigating limbo: help-seeking for mental health problems among loved ones of missing persons

Publication Name

Clinical Psychologist

Abstract

Objective: When a person is missing, those left behind are at increased risk of experiencing mental health difficulties. However, little is known about mental health help-seeking among this population. The current study explored relationships between sociodemographic variables, loss characteristics, psychological symptoms, psychological disorder ”caseness”, and help-seeking behaviour among people with a missing loved one. Method: One hundred and ten people with a missing loved one completed a questionnaire assessing help-seeking and symptoms of psychological distress, prolonged grief and posttraumatic stress. Descriptive statistics, Chi-square tests and binary regression analyses were used for data analysis. Results: Results showed that the majority of participants had not sought help for their mental health, despite high rates of mental health problems. Current help-seeking was significantly associated with caseness of a non-specific mental health disorder but not with prolonged grief or probable posttraumatic stress. Overall, consulting a psychologist or counsellor was the most frequently sought source of help, followed by peers with shared experience. Conclusions: This study highlights help-seeking among people with a missing loved one and suggests further research is needed to support this vulnerable group to access needed mental health help. Implications of findings for service delivery are discussed.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

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Link to publisher version (DOI)

http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13284207.2021.2008767