Parents' help-seeking processes for early childhood mental health problems

Elizabeth Li'en Oh, Jordana Bayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Mental health problems affect up to one in five children and adolescents. Yet less than one quarter will access the appropriate professional help. This study explored parents help-seeking processes for young children with mental health problems. Methods: The present study followed up 442 6-year-old children of an original 733 infants (60 retention) who had been recruited from routine universal maternal and child health well-child appointments. An adapted help-seeking model was applied to a subsample of 84 children with mental health problems. Results: Less than one third of parents whose child had a mental health problem accessed any type of professional service for their child s mental health. The majority of parents had highly positive help-seeking intentions, however, only one third of parents whose child had a mental health problem recognised their child s behavioural difficulties. Parents with more positive help-seeking intentions were more likely to access professional care for their child in need than parents who felt ambivalent about seeking help. Parent recognition that their child s behaviour was more difficult than average was a key barrier to accessing professional help when their child had a mental health problem. Conclusions: While most parents have positive help-seeking intentions, professionals aiding parent recognition of their young child s mental health difficulties could facilitate early intervention for children s mental health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149 - 154
Number of pages6
JournalChild and Adolescent Mental Health
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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