Help seeking for mental health problems in an adolescent population: the effect of gender

L. Haavik*, I. Joa, K. Hatloy, H. J. Stain, J. Langeveld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: While the onset of many mental health problems occurs in adolescence, these problems are severely undertreated in this age group. To inform early intervention for adolescents, we investigated the effect of gender and education type on perception of barriers to help seeking, mental health literacy, and the awareness and use of mental health services. Method: A web-based survey using vignettes, open-ended and multiple choice items was administered to upper secondary school students in two counties in Norway. Results: The survey was completed by 1249 students (88% response rate) with an average age of 17.6 years and 56% were female. Compared to males, the females were better in identifying psychological problems of anxiety and trauma, awareness of mental health services (p < 0.001) and perceived more barriers for seeking help (cost and waiting time; p < 0.001). For use of all mental health services, the effect of education type was greater than the effect of gender. Conclusion: For adolescents, gender appears to play a significant, but not exclusive, role in the inclination to seek professional help for mental health problems. We hypothesise that the observed gender difference in use of services is related to the gender difference in awareness of referral pathway services and the influence of parents in help-seeking process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-474
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • health related behavior
  • mental health
  • nurses in school settings
  • Youth


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