The article “Barriers to Seeking Psychotherapy for Mental Health Problems in Adolescents: A Mixed Method Study” explores the discrepancy between the high prevalence of mental disorders in adolescents and the relatively low rate at which they seek psychotherapy. The study used a mixed-methods design with 288 adolescents aged 12–21. It aimed to understand the barriers preventing adolescents from seeking psychotherapy and their attitudes toward people with mental disorders.
The qualitative assessment identified fear of negative interaction with a psychotherapist, confrontation with one’s own emotions, self-stigma, and public stigma as major barriers. The lack of accessibility, distrust in therapists, desire for social distance, and negative attitude towards individuals with mental disorders were also highlighted. Interestingly, previous positive experiences with psychotherapy facilitated the seeking of such services.
The quantitative assessment pointed out gender differences, with participants identifying as male displaying a higher desire for social distance, higher optimism bias scores, and poorer mental health knowledge. This suggests a need for gender-specific interventions.
The study highlighted the need for interventions that increase specific information about psychotherapy to lower barriers. The importance of self-disclosure by people with experience in psychotherapy was emphasized to help reduce barriers for others. The results indicated that adolescents reported a lack of knowledge about psychotherapy and mental health services. This lack of knowledge, coupled with fears and stigmatizing attitudes, significantly hindered their intention to seek psychotherapy.
Moreover, personal experience with psychotherapy, age, and gender influenced the adolescents’ attitudes and knowledge about psychotherapy. Those with personal experience or who knew someone with experience had better knowledge and lower stigma. Age was positively correlated with knowledge, while male participants reported more barriers and less knowledge.
The study concluded that to lower barriers to psychotherapy, there’s a need to focus on reducing fears related to the psychotherapy setting, increasing psychotherapy knowledge, and ensuring transparency about the setting and process. It also underscored the importance of psychoeducation interventions and the need to tailor content for different genders. Finally, it highlighted the necessity of continued research to understand and address the barriers to seeking psychotherapy among adolescents.
Pfeiffer, S., & In-Albon, T. (2022). Barriers to seeking psychotherapy for mental health problems in adolescents: A mixed method study. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 31(9), 2571-2581. doi: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-022-02364-4