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C4 Module 4.7

Who can help?

Before You Begin

What things might prevent young people asking for help and accessing support services?

There are many barriers that can prevent students from accessing help when they need it.

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There are many barriers for young people to overcome on the pathway to support – so how can we help?

Pathways to support

Young people experiencing mental health difficulties benefit from early recognition and timely support, which ultimately may include professional help. For young people there is often a ‘pathway to support’, which involves the support of family and school staff in accessing professional help.

A mental health support network

Schools will have limits to what they can provide, so it is important to find the right balance of what can be offered at school, and when students need to be referred to an external support or service.

Schools are well placed to know who the local private practitioners are who work with young people and families and the local community agencies that provide programs and support services, including counselling, group work, family support and other initiatives. Developing a service list can be helpful for understanding what is available.

Overcoming barriers to help-seeking

Young people having ongoing struggles with their mental health often do not seek help from family or friends or look to access professional help. Barriers to help-seeking range from not believing they can be helped, negative perceptions of mental health services to lack of information on services and concerns about what others will think of them. Often it is family, friends or school staff who detect worrying changes in a young person’s mood or behaviour, and who express their concern to that young person (in some cases forcing the issue) that ultimately results in the young person getting professional help.

Understanding that help-seeking is not a simple process that young people can undertake without support can help inform school mental health strategies to overcome these barriers.

How can schools and staff help overcome barriers to help seeking?

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