Help-seeking behaviour in men and women with common mental health problems: cross-sectional study

Maria Isabel Oliver, Nicky Pearson, Nicola Coe, David Gunnell
British Journal of Psychiatry 2005, 186: 297-301

BACKGROUND: Many people with mental health problems do not seek professional help but their use of other sources of help is unclear.

AIMS: To investigate patterns of lay and professional help-seeking in men and women aged 16-64 years in relation to severity of symptoms and socio-demographic variables.

METHOD: Postal questionnaire survey, including the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12), sent to a stratified random sample (n=15,222) of the population of Somerset.

RESULTS: The response rate was 76%. Only 28% of people with extremely high GHQ-12 scores (> or = 8) had sought help from their general practitioner but most (78%) had sought some form of help. Males, young people and people living in affluent areas were the least likely to seek help.

CONCLUSIONS: Health promotion interventions to encourage appropriate help-seeking behaviour in young people, particularly in men, may lead to improvements in the mental health of this group of the population.

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