Online help-seeking is an emerging trend within the 21st century. Yet, despite some movement toward developing online services, little is known about how young people locate, access, and receive support online. This study aims to conceptualize the process of online help-seeking among adolescent males. Modified photo-elicitation techniques were employed within eight semi-structured focus group sessions with adolescent males aged 14 to 15 years (n = 56) across seven schools in Northern Ireland. Thematic analyses were conducted within an ontological framework of critical realism and an epistemological framework of contextualism. Informal online help-seeking pathways increased opportunity for social support and reduced stigma but also included loss of control and reduced anonymity. Formal pathways offered increased anonymity but concerns were raised regarding participants' ability to locate and appraise the quality of information online. A conceptual model of online help-seeking has been developed to highlight the key help-seeking pathways taken by adolescent males.
- Internet, qualitative; Northern Ireland; health behavior; mental health and illness; men’s health, health seeking; modified photo-elicitation