Attitudinal barriers to help-seeking and preferences for mental health support among Australian fathers Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE:To (a) identify attitudinal barriers to help-seeking for mental health difficulties among fathers of young children; (b) explore the relationships between perceived barriers to help-seeking and mental health difficulties (i.e. depressive, anxiety, stress symptoms); (c) identify socio-demographic factors associated with barriers to help-seeking; and (d) identify fathers' preferences for mental health support. BACKGROUND:One in 10 Australian fathers experience mental health difficulties in the early parenting period. Low rates of help-seeking and under-utilisation of health care services are key issues for the provision of mental health support to fathers at this important life stage. METHOD:The sample consisted of 154 fathers of young children (aged 0-8 years) participating in an Australian online survey on parent wellbeing and parenting. The Barriers to Help-Seeking Scale assessed fathers' attitudinal barriers to help-seeking for mental health support. Socio-demographic factors related to fathers' employment, education, and family composition were assessed. RESULTS:The most common attitudinal barriers to help-seeking were: (a) the need for control and self-reliance in managing one's own problems, (b) a tendency to downplay or minimise problems, and (c) a sense of resignation that nothing will help. A range of demographic (i.e. age, educational attainment) factors were associated with these barriers. The most common preferences for support were internet-based information resources, followed by support provided by general practitioners and maternal child health nurses. CONCLUSIONS:These findings have important implications for health promotion, health services and clinical approaches to promoting the health and wellbeing of fathers.

publication date

  • 2017