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Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2005 Oct-Dec;17(4):315-35.

Young people, social support and help-seeking.

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  • 1Instituto PROMUNDO, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


This paper contributes to understanding of young people's help-seeking behaviour. A conceptual framework is proposed that seeks to integrate differing sources of influence and their implications for policy and programme development. Data was collected by means of an international literature review followed by a purposive international survey of expert informants. Findings suggest that it is important to distinguish between individual and structural determinants of young people's help-seeking behaviour. Policy and programme influences also impact upon the demand for help and the supply of social support that is available. It is important to focus on the normative needs of young people as well as specific health needs and problems. Creating trust, rethinking adult attitudes toward young people, and reducing the stigma associated with seeking help are key to promoting help-seeking behaviour. Many young people are hindered from seeking help, or are not offered help because of social exclusion, violence, poverty, prejudice (including homophobia) and gender inequalities. Future actions to promote help-seeking and enhance social support must consider these structural barriers, making special efforts to reach and work with excluded populations.

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