Help-seeking & mental health in the northwest of Ireland
: exploring the experiences, impact and outcomes for young people aged 16-25 years

  • Louise Lynch

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Youth suicide and mental health is an important issue of global concern and one that requires timely and evidence-based interventions to prevent deaths and increase quality of life. Young people are described in the wider literature as reluctant to seek help and there is a lack of qualitative research examining why. This research examined mental health and help-seeking with young people aged 16-25 years (N=18) who were experienced service users and practitioners employed to provide mental health support (N=6). Data were analysed using Constructivist Grounded Theory methods by Charmaz (2014). The findings were presented in two parts; Part A has four categories from young people’s data and include: 1. “Young people’s lives”; 2. “Managing mental health problems”; 3. “The help”; and 4. “Impact and outcomes of their experiences”. Part B identified two categories from practitioners’ data: 1. “On being a helper” and 2. “Understanding of young people”. The key findings described young people’s contexts and their help-seeking journeys with regard to their cultural and historical context. Research insights contributed to theory development regarding help-seeking behaviour as well as a new conceptual model of youth help-seeking behaviour for mental health problems, which includes the embedded role of informal networks. Critical discussion into young people’s needs in mental health care was provided including developmentally appropriate approaches, up to the age of 25 years. This study concluded that current youth mental health care provision does not meet young people’s needs and that provision needs to be reformed in partnership with young people, and with consideration given to appropriate design and interagency collaboration. Reform can contribute to earlier and meaningful interventions, improved quality of life and the reduction of youth death by suicide.
Date of AwardMay 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorMaggie Long (Supervisor), Anne Moorhead (Supervisor) & Isobel Hawthorne-Steele (Supervisor)


  • Mental health
  • Help-seeking
  • Youth
  • Qualitative
  • Grounded theory
  • Service design

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