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.
- General practitioners
- Mental health