Adolescent mental health problems, suicidality and seeking help from General Practice: a cross-sectional study (Northern Ireland Schools and Wellbeing study)

Gerard Leavey, Michael Rosato, Seeromanie Harding, Dagmar Anna Susanne Corry, Natalie Divin, Gavin Breslin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Adolescent mental health problems and suicidality appear to be increasing in Western countries but contact with health services remains stubbornly low. While social disadvantage is often implicated in aetiology and help-seeking, evidence on the relative contribution of school and family life factors is limited. We sought (a) to examine the prevalence and factors associated with mental health problems in adolescent boys and girls; and (b) to examine factors associated with trust and contact with GPs for mental health problems. 

Method: Cross-sectional study of adolescent pupils in Northern Ireland 

Results: High rates of mental health problems and suicidality were recorded, especially among females. While social circumstances do not influence mental health outcomes, factors of interest were atheist/agnostic beliefs and having a bedroom to oneself. While overall trust in GPs was high, more than 36% of the sample reported low trust. GP Trust was associated with positive home life factors. Importantly, adolescents with mental health problems including suicidality were much less likely to seek help. 

Limitations: Cross-sectional data 

Conclusions: This study confirms the high rates of mental health problems and suicidality among adolescents in Northern Ireland, particularly among young women. Those most in need of professional help appear least prepared to seek it. The influence of home life and environment on both poor mental health and trust and help-seeking from family doctors, is considerable and there is a need to find interventions that nurture appropriate levels of trust and help-seeking guidance for adolescents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-544
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume274
Early online date26 May 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 May 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • General practitioners
  • Help-seeking
  • Mental health
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidality

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Adolescent mental health problems, suicidality and seeking help from General Practice: a cross-sectional study (Northern Ireland Schools and Wellbeing study)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this