An orientation toward help-seeking for emotional problems

M A Tijhuis, L Peters, M Foets
Social Science & Medicine 1990, 31 (9): 989-95
In recent years, many researchers tried to explain the social selection in use of mental health care services. A modest role is attributed to the orientation toward help-seeking. This article studies this orientation. Our research-population consisted of 10,171 Dutch persons, aged 18 and older. Analysis showed that most people are prone to seek help for one or more emotional problems. People who are more prone to seek help are younger, have had more education and have a higher family income. They have more often acquaintances working in mental health care. People who are more prone to seek help do not see chance as the locus of control of health. These people are less dependent on their GP for common disorders and are more open about mental health matters. The results of discriminant analysis are not satisfactory, but when we try to distinguish the groups of people who are and who are not willing to seek help, we see that the best discriminating factor is their help-seeking attitude for common disorders. People who have high expectations from the GP for common disorders, clearly do have a preference to seek help for the emotional problems. The groups of people who are more willing to seek help from the GP compared to mental health professionals cannot be distinguished by these expectations. Here the level of education discriminates fairly well: people who are more prone to seek help from a GP have a lower educational level. Future research should be focussed on the testing of a theoretical model that explains the orientation toward help-seeking for emotional problems and selection in help-seeking with longitudinal data.

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