Influence of depression, gender, and prior psychological assistance on adolescents' attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help

Lyle Martin Becourtney, Pace University

Abstract

Adolescents tend to have negative attitudes toward seeking psychological assistance and often exhibit significant resistance toward receiving the help that they so desperately need. A better understanding of adolescents' attitudes toward seeking help is provided in the present study by exploring how these attitudes are influenced by such factors as depression, gender, and prior psychological assistance. This study was conducted with 202 high school students (86 males and 116 females) who completed the Children's Depression Inventory-Short Form (CDI-S; Kovacs, 1992), Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPHS; Fischer & Turner, 1970), and a demographic form.^ It was hypothesized that female adolescents would have more positive attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help than male adolescents. This hypothesis was confirmed for the ATSPPHS global scores, (t(200) = $-$2.32, p =.02). However, this gender difference reached significance on only 1 of the 4 ATSPPHS subscales, Recognition of Need (t(200)= $-$2.67, p =.008).^ Those adolescents who had previously received counseling expressed greater recognition of personal need for psychotherapeutic help (t(200) = $-$2.08, p =.04) than those who had never received any psychological assistance. However, prior counseling experience was not related to overall attitudes toward seeking psychological help.^ It was also hypothesized that there would be a negative relationship between depression and help-seeking attitudes. This hypothesis was confirmed for the ATSPPHS global scores ($r=-.16,$ p =.02) as well as for the ATSPPHS Stigma Tolerance ($r=-. 18,$ p =.01) and Interpersonal Openness ($r=-.26,$ p =.000) subscales. No gender differences were found with regard to this relationship.^ Finally, partial support was provided for the hypothesis which posited that the relationship between depression and help-seeking attitudes would be different for adolescents who had previously received counseling than for those who had never before received such help. Although the interaction between prior counseling experience and depression did not predict overall attitudes toward seeking psychological help, it did significantly predict confidence in the mental health profession and its practitioners $(B=-.86,$ t(196) = $-$2.98, p =.003).^ The results of this study are discussed in terms of how adolescents' help-seeking attitudes impact on the ability of mental health practitioners to identify and treat those youngsters in need. Suggestions for future research are also provided with particular emphasis on improving the accuracy of measurement of adolescents' help-seeking attitudes and identifying additional variables which may influence these attitudes. ^

Subject Area

Social Work|Psychology, Developmental|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Lyle Martin Becourtney, "Influence of depression, gender, and prior psychological assistance on adolescents' attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help" (January 1, 1996). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI9630535.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI9630535

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