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Early access and help seeking: practice implications and new initiatives


  • Declaration of conflict of interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest.

Dr Coralie Wilson, C/o Graduate School of Medicine, Building 28, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia. Email:


Aim: Seeking appropriate help for early signs and symptoms of psychological distress can reduce the long-term impact of many mental disorders. This article describes practice implications and new initiatives for promoting early access and help-seeking among young people.

Methods: Relevant help-seeking research is reviewed, and prominent help-seeking barriers are discussed.

Results: Prominent barriers for young people include: incomplete mental health and emotional literacy, beliefs about having little need for help versus having a need for autonomy, and the process of help-negation for different symptoms of psychological distress.

Conclusions: To improve early access to appropriate help and mental health services, barriers that can be reduced, and in particular, psychological distress symptoms that promote the help-negation process, must be reduced as soon as they can be. Strategies that can be used by clinicians, parents and others, including young people, to encourage appropriate help-seeking are provided. Examples of how these strategies are implemented in several innovative programs and approaches are discussed.