Formal and informal help-seeking for mental health problems. A survey of preferences of Italian students

Barbara D'Avanzo, Angelo Barbato, Stefano Erzegovesi, Letizia Lampertico, Filippo Rapisarda, Lella Valsecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Help-seeking preferences for mental health are a crucial aspect to design strategies to support adolescents in an emotionally delicate life phase. Informal help-seeking is usually preferred but little was published about preferences in different cultures, and it is not clear whether informal and formal help are mutually exclusive or whether they are part of the same overall propensity to help-seeking. In a survey of 710 students in Milan, Italy, help-seeking propensity measured through an Italian version of the General Help-Seeking Questionnaire was high, similar in males and females (mean total score 3.8, DS 0.9); few (9%) tended not to seek help. The most-preferred source of help was a friend, then father or mother, partner, psychologist and psychiatrist. 355 students (55%) reported high propensity to seek both informal and formal help; 33 (5%) would only seek formal help. Help-seeking should be promoted in itself, rather than indicating professionals and professional settings as primary sources of help.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-51
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Adolescents
  • Formal help
  • Help-seeking
  • Informal help
  • Mental health
  • School

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Epidemiology


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