The British Journal of Psychiatry

Abstract

Background Many people with mental health problems do not seek professional help but their use of other sources of help is unclear.

Aims To investigate patterns of lay and professional help-seeking in men and women aged16–64 years in relation to severity of symptoms and socio-demographic variables.

Method Postal questionnaire survey, including the 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ–12), sent to a stratified random sample (n=15 222) of the population of Somerset.

Results The response rate was 76%. Only 28% of people with extremely high GHQ–12 scores (≥8) had sought help from their general practitioner but most (78%) had sought some form of help. Males, young people and people living in affluent areas were the least likely to seek help.

Conclusions Health promotion interventions to encourage appropriate help-seeking behaviour in young people, particularly in men, may lead to improvements in the mental health of this group of the population.

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