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Cry for help

Press release issued: 1 March 2001

Understanding a cry for help

A major research project to understand the plea for help by mentally distressed young adults starts tomorrow [Tuesday, February 13].

Researchers at the University of Bristol, led by Dr David Gunnell, Senior Lecturer in Public Health Medicine and Epidemiology in the Department of Social Medicine, are co-ordinating the project funded by NHS South and West Research and Development.

Three thousand 16- to 24-year-olds are being sent questionnaires over the next few weeks to establish how common mental distress is in young people and how people go about seeking help for their problems. Interviews are also being carried out to explore young people's reactions to mental distress, potential sources of help and the factors influencing their decisions about whether or not to seek help.

The research aims to explain the patterns of pleas for help amongst young adults - an area that appears to have been overlooked. The research will explore patterns of help-seeking with voluntary sector groups as well as GPs, focusing on why significant proportions of young people who are mentally distressed do not seek help when it may be beneficial.

Dr David Gunnell said: 'This research is vital in efforts to improve the options available to young people suffering with mental illness. The success of educational programmes training GPs in the recognition and detection of depression depends on people who are depressed seeking help. Many do not.

'Understanding the barriers that deter people from discussing mental health problems with their GP could be used to encourage people to confront psychological health during their consultation. Surprisingly, both these areas have to date received little attention, particularly in people aged between 16 and 24 - the very group in which mental health appears to have deteriorated in recent years.'

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Copyright: 2001 The University of Bristol, UK
Updated: Thursday, 01-Mar-2001 17:38:30 GMT

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