Barriers and facilitating factors to help-seeking for symptoms of clinical anxiety in adolescent males

Laura Clark, Jennifer Hudson*, Debra Dunstan, Gavin Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Young men are very reluctant to seek help for anxiety disorders. In particular, the factors that facilitate mental health help‐seeking in adolescent males are poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate the barriers and facilitating factors to help‐seeking behaviour for clinical anxiety in Australian adolescent males.

The views of 29 adolescent males, both with and without experience of clinical anxiety symptoms, were elicited using semi‐structured interviews and focus groups. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using grounded theory.

Primary barriers to help‐seeking included stigma (particularly in relation to social norms of masculinity), effort, limited awareness/knowledge of symptoms of anxiety and a sense of being ‘confronted’ by private emotions through help‐seeking. Facilitating factors included increasing the accessibility of school‐based mental health literacy programs and providing a wider range of formal and informal help‐seeking options. Other facilitators related to amendments in how mental health information is presented and investments into high speed/low effort help‐seeking options. A preliminary model of mental health help‐seeking in adolescent males with clinical anxiety is presented.

Adolescent males feel that they risk significant stigma by help‐seeking for mental health problems but lack information as to the benefits or the experience of help seeking. A stepped approach to options for mental health support and information for this population should be evaluated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-234
Number of pages10
JournalAustralian Journal of Psychology
Early online date12 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018
Externally publishedYes


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