I'll Get by with a Little Help from my Friends: Young People's Help-Seeking for Depression
The present research involved two studies examining the impact of severity on the process of help-seeking for depression. The first study included a survey of 316 New Zealand Adolescents (14-18 years) help-seeking, their inclination to seek help from a friend, parent, medical person and mental health professional for each scenario, and barriers to seeking help from these sources. Young females were more likely to identify depressive symptoms as a problem, and reported higher help-seeking, as well as lower barriers to seeking help. Age and ethnicity impacted on the process of seeking help, and inclination to seek help from different sources, supporting a complex multi-stage process, which both individual and contextual variables impact on the different stages. Correspondence Analysis was conducted on participant barriers to seeking help, which revealed that the severity of symptoms and source of help were reflected in participants' selection of barriers. It was suggested that young people perceive formal sources of help as more appropriate for severe symptoms of depression than informal sources such as friends and family. To examine this further, twenty-two semi-structured interviews were conducted with similar aged young people in the second study. Through thematic analysis, two overarching themes were identified. The expected response from a helper, and their relationship with a helper, were found to influence seeking help from different sources. The severity of depressive symptoms was found to overlap with these themes, to influence the perceived appropriateness of different helpers. This research contributes to understanding the reasons young people prefer informal sources of help. That is, they are more trusted, the response is more predictable, and help is considered more relevant from informal sources, particularly friends. The importance of utilising and strengthening already established help-seeking pathways of friends and family is encouraged to improve help-seeking from professionals.