According to Fallon and Bowles (1999) the area of adolescent help seeking behaviour is an under-researched area. Since the cognitive and critical thinking of adolescents are still developing, their behaviours toward issues concern them may vary case by case. The purpose of this report was to investigate issues concern adolescents and their help seeking behaviour toward those issues, especially seek professional helps. The report analysis was based on secondary information obtained from various researchers by scholars. The participants in the researchers were students with different demographic background, such as gender, ethnicities.
Fallon et al (1999) investigated the major and minor problems concerned the adolescents and their help seeking behaviours toward those problems. The major problems were identified to be more severe and would cause participants distress, while minor problems would not distress the participants. The participants were 1,022 secondary school students from Melbourne Metropolitan area, 585 of them were male, and 419 were female. Total 297 of them were in year 7 and 8, 333 were in year 9 and 10, others were in year 11 and 12. Their ages ranged from 11 to 18 years. Each of the participants completed a survey comprised of three parts to define the adolescents’ concerns and help seeking behaviours. The first part contained demographic questions.
The second part contained mainly rating and categorizing questions to identify the major problems of concerns, nature of the concerns, and sources of help to the concerns. While the third part focused on the minor concerns. The nature of the both concerns was defined into five categories, family, interpersonal, health, education and others. And the sources of help were in the domain of friends, parents and professionals. The findings show that problems concerns different levels of students were very similar. About 50% of the participants sought help for their major problems, 40% sought for minor problems and 25% would seek help for both problems. The problems associated with family and interpersonal skills were often identified as major issues. For minor issues, family and education problems were frequently reported. Therefore the adolescents would differentiate major and minor problems and react differently toward the problems. For major problems, females were more willing to seek help than males, but there was no gender difference towards minor problems.
And males preferred to ask parents and rather than friends, while females were inversely. However, on both minor and major problems, respondents were preferred to seek help from parents and friends over professionals, this may probably due to the easy access to nonprofessional sources. Gim, Atkinson, and Whiteley (1990) conducted an investigation which focuses on the issues concerns Asian-American and the relationship between acculturation and willingness to see a counsellor. The study was down through 816 Asian-American students from West Coast University. 399 of the respondents were male, 417 were female. And 291 of them were freshmen, 191 were junior, 159 were sophomores, 174 were seniors, which ranged in an age group of 16 to 37. The survey questionnaire comprised of three sections. The respondents were asked to report their demographic information and rate the seriousness of 24 issues in eight domains of concern and their wiliness to see counsellors on these concerns. Among the 24 issues, the respondents scaled highly for issues like financial, academic, relationship, conflicts with parents. The results show that for those Asia Americans, they were most willing to seek counsellors for issues like financial, academic, career, but least willing to seek help about concerns such as ethnic identity confusion, roommate, and health.
The respondents’ attitudes towards seeking counsellors would be affected by acculturation, ethnicity, and gender. Asian Americans with higher level of acculturation would be more willing to seek professional counsellors. In a similar study, Kim and Omizo (2003) generated respondents of 242 Asian American college students from mid-Atlantic and Hawaii universities ,140 of them were female and 102 were male, with an age range of 18 to 57 years. Fifty-nine of the respondents had had sought counselling before. And there were mainly from China, Korea, Philippines, and Japan. Similar conclusion was obtained that Asian Americans who were highly adhered to Asian cultural values, their attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help would be less positive and they were less willing to seek counsellors in general problems. But the sample size of the Kim and Omizo (2003) was relatively small, which may not be a strong support. In another research Eisenberg, Golverstein and Gollust (2007) investigated the help-seeking behaviour and access to mental health service.
The participants are students from Midwestern, public university. The initial sample size was 5,021 students aged above 18 years. And 2,495 were undergraduates, the remaining were graduate and professional students. Since the survey was web-based, total 2,785 students completed the survey and their demographic profile was similar to national student population. The survey used Patient Health Questionnaire-9(PHQ-9) as the key measure to identify the symptoms of depression. The result shows that 15% of Students obtained psychotherapy or psychotropic medication. About 50% respondents aware that there was free counselling service on campus and where to access the mental health care. Among participants who experienced major depression, only 36% received treatment which demonstrated a low level usage of cheap university medical service. For students who did not seek help, they often held the perception that stress was normal in school, or did not realise there is a need, or having the thought that problems would get better as time goes by.
Limitations of the research include the reliability of web survey results and the survey ignored the informal sources of help like friends and family. The investigations above all show that female is more open to seek help for issues concerns them, however, comes to the issue of dating violence, male perpetrators and victims were more likely to seek help than female (Ashley & Foshee, 2005). Ashley et al investigated the adolescents’ help-seeking behaviour and helping sources when experienced of dating violence. The analysis was based on secondary data collected in a longitudinal study of adolescent dating violence. A sample size of 365 out of 1814 survey participants collected in 1996 was chosen in their investigation. There were 225 dating violence victims and 140 perpetrators and all the participants were public school students from rural North Carolina country. The results show that over 60% respondents did not seek help for dating violence, especially perpetrators. Among those who sought help, friends and family members were more frequently chosen as their help sources than professionals.
But males were more willing to seek professional help than females. The possible reasons are higher social acceptance to male hitting female than female hitting male and male will cause more serious and dangerous consequences in the dating violence than female. The findings also demonstrate that older perpetrators were more likely to seek help than younger ones. Researchers suggested that as the adolescent mature, they may have in-depth cognitive on dating violence and the potential consequences of their behaviour which compelling them to seek help. In conclusion, issues concerns or distress adolescents will vary due to their levels of education, gender, ethicises, age, nationality. And adolescents’ issues usually fall in the domains of family, interpersonal, education, and health. Most of them are not willing to seek help, especially male.
But for certain issues, like dating violence, male are more willing to seek help. Easy accessibility made informal sources of help like friends and family common and popular than professional counsellors when adolescents experienced psychological issues. The other reasons cause low frequency of counselling professional help will be like social norms, lack cognition or unaware of benefits from professional help. So the society should promote more benefits of professional counselling and increase the acceptance of it. For adolescents, they are still at growing stage, abilities like perceptions, cognitions, abstract thinking are also developing. It is very important to guide them have a positive thinking of seeking professional help when facing issues concern them, in the end, may also help them develop a positive attitudes in their lives.
Ashley, O. S., & Foshee, V. A. (2005). Adolescent help-seeking for dating violence:prevalence, sociodemographic correlates, and sources of help_.
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Eisenberg, D., Golverstein, E., & Gollust, E. (2007). Help-seeking and access to mental health care in a university student population. _Medical Care. 45 (7)._
Fallon, B. J., & Bowles, T. (1999). Adolescent help-seeking for major and minor problems. _Australian Journal of Psychology, 51 (1),_ 12-18.
Gim, R. H., Atkinson, D. R., & Whiteley, S. (1990). Asian-American acculturation, severity of problems, and willingness to see a counselor. _Journal of Counseling Psychology, 37 (3)_, 281-285.
Kim, B. S., & Omizo, M. M. (2003). Asian culture values, attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help, and willingness to seek a counsellor. _THE COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGIST, 31 (3),_ 343-361.