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      Barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking for young elite athletes: a qualitative study

      research-article

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      BMC Psychiatry

      BioMed Central

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          Abstract

          Background

          Adolescents and young adults experience a high level of mental disorders, yet tend not to seek help. Research indicates that there are many barriers and facilitators to help-seeking for young people in the general community. However there are limited data available for young elite athletes. This study aims to determine what young elite athletes perceive as the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking for common mental health problems.

          Methods

          Fifteen elite athletes aged 16–23 years each participated in one of three focus group discussions. In addition to written data, verbal responses were audio taped, transcribed and thematically analysed.

          Results

          Participants’ written and verbal data suggested that stigma was the most important perceived barrier to seeking help for young elite athletes. Other notable barriers were a lack of mental health literacy, and negative past experiences of help-seeking. Facilitators to help-seeking were encouragement from others, having an established relationship with a provider, pleasant previous interactions with providers, the positive attitudes of others, especially their coach, and access to the internet.

          Conclusions

          Intervention strategies for improving help-seeking in young elite athletes should focus on reducing stigma, increasing mental health literacy, and improving relations with potential providers.

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          Most cited references77

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          Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups.

          Qualitative research explores complex phenomena encountered by clinicians, health care providers, policy makers and consumers. Although partial checklists are available, no consolidated reporting framework exists for any type of qualitative design. To develop a checklist for explicit and comprehensive reporting of qualitative studies (in depth interviews and focus groups). We performed a comprehensive search in Cochrane and Campbell Protocols, Medline, CINAHL, systematic reviews of qualitative studies, author or reviewer guidelines of major medical journals and reference lists of relevant publications for existing checklists used to assess qualitative studies. Seventy-six items from 22 checklists were compiled into a comprehensive list. All items were grouped into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. Duplicate items and those that were ambiguous, too broadly defined and impractical to assess were removed. Items most frequently included in the checklists related to sampling method, setting for data collection, method of data collection, respondent validation of findings, method of recording data, description of the derivation of themes and inclusion of supporting quotations. We grouped all items into three domains: (i) research team and reflexivity, (ii) study design and (iii) data analysis and reporting. The criteria included in COREQ, a 32-item checklist, can help researchers to report important aspects of the research team, study methods, context of the study, findings, analysis and interpretations.
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            Perceived barriers and facilitators to mental health help-seeking in young people: a systematic review

            Background Adolescents and young adults frequently experience mental disorders, yet tend not to seek help. This systematic review aims to summarise reported barriers and facilitators of help-seeking in young people using both qualitative research from surveys, focus groups, and interviews and quantitative data from published surveys. It extends previous reviews through its systematic research methodology and by the inclusion of published studies describing what young people themselves perceive are the barriers and facilitators to help-seeking for common mental health problems. Methods Twenty two published studies of perceived barriers or facilitators in adolescents or young adults were identified through searches of PubMed, PsycInfo, and the Cochrane database. A thematic analysis was undertaken on the results reported in the qualitative literature and quantitative literature. Results Fifteen qualitative and seven quantitative studies were identified. Young people perceived stigma and embarrassment, problems recognising symptoms (poor mental health literacy), and a preference for self-reliance as the most important barriers to help-seeking. Facilitators were comparatively under-researched. However, there was evidence that young people perceived positive past experiences, and social support and encouragement from others as aids to the help-seeking process. Conclusions Strategies for improving help-seeking by adolescents and young adults should focus on improving mental health literacy, reducing stigma, and taking into account the desire of young people for self-reliance.
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              A new scale of social desirability independent of psychopathology.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BMC Psychiatry
                BioMed Central
                1471-244X
                2012
                26 September 2012
                : 12
                : 157
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Centre for Mental Health Research, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
                Article
                1471-244X-12-157
                10.1186/1471-244X-12-157
                3514142
                23009161
                4998131b-69f0-42dc-940d-e17b2e9e5ca7
                Copyright ©2012 Gulliver et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Research Article

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

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