Joint pain

September 2010


Help and e-help

Young people’s perspectives of mental healthcare

Volume 39, No.9, September 2010 Pages 663-665

Denise Charman

Craig Harms

Jacquie Myles-Pallister


This study aimed to explore young people’s experiences and perspectives on seeking and accessing help for mental health using traditional as well as electronic means.


Three focus groups of young people aged 13–26 years who were members of community groups, explored issues guided by a series of questions.


Using interpretive phenomenological analysis of the transcripts, three themes emerged:

  • Young people’s perceptions of mental health problems in themselves and their peers
  • Young people’s experiences of help and the importance of trust
  • Young people’s perceptions of e-help and concerns about trust.


Participants appeared to have a good sense of when help is needed and how they wanted to be helped for mental health problems. However, participants described many negative experiences, particularly restricted access to help and breaches of trust. There were concerns about privacy and confidentiality with e-help, as well as a general distrust and fear of harm in seeking help.

Young people include those from 12–24 years of age.1 While health and wellbeing reports often cover only part of this age range, it is very clear that young people have high rates of mental disorders. The child and adolescent component of a national health and welfare survey (2000)2 found that 14% of adolescents (aged 13–17 years) had a mental health disorder (most common were anxiety and substance and alcohol misuse). Over one-quarter of adolescents with a mental health disorder also had a physical health problem.2 In 2008, The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reported that for the age range 15–24 years (constituting approximately 18% of the population), mental health disorders accounted for 61% of the nonfatal burden of disease.1

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