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Parent help-seeking behaviour: Examining the impact of parent beliefs on professional help-seeking for child emotional and behavioural difficulties

  • Jennah Alonso (a1) and Emma Little (a1)

Abstract

For children experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties, parents are key gatekeepers to treatment access. However, despite the substantial prevalence of child mental health problems in Australia, there remains a significant disparity between the rate of children requiring treatment and the rate of parents actively seeking professional help for their child. Therefore, an understanding of factors impacting on parents’ help-seeking behaviour is crucial. The current study presents exploratory research examining the impact of parent beliefs on help-seeking behaviour. Specifically, this study aims to explore parent beliefs about (a) barriers to help-seeking (b) parenting ability, and (c) the causes and nature of child difficulties. Participants in this study were a sample of 399 Australian parents of children aged from 4 to 14 years, with each parent completing a series of four structured questionnaires. Results indicated that parents who had not sought help for their child perceived significantly more barriers to help seeking and held significantly stronger beliefs that child emotional and behavioural difficulties are intentional. Results also indicated that as parents’ sense of competence increased, perceived barriers to help seeking decreased. Perceived barriers to help seeking also decreased as parent beliefs that child difficulties are stable decreased. The present study presents several implications for informing effective engagement strategies to improve service utilisation, highlighting directions for future hypothesis-driven research.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Emma Little, Email: emma.little@acu.edu.au

References

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Parent help-seeking behaviour: Examining the impact of parent beliefs on professional help-seeking for child emotional and behavioural difficulties

  • Jennah Alonso (a1) and Emma Little (a1)

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