Seeking help for psychological distress: Barriers for mental health professionals

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Objective: Mental health care is a demanding profession with high rates of stress and burnout. Given the implications of untreated illness, it is essential that mental health professionals feel able to seek help from appropriate service providers when required. This study investigated perceived barriers to disclosure and help-seeking within this population. Methods: A sample of 98 Australian mental health professionals and students (clinicians in training) completed an online survey assessing help-seeking intentions and past behaviour, barriers to accessing care for mental ill health, and concerns regarding disclosure of mental health problems. Results: Results indicated that while the majority of participants (89%) would seek help if they were distressed, 57% acknowledged that there had been a time when they would have benefited from seeking help but had not done so. Reported barriers to seeking help included wanting to solve the problem on their own, fear about colleagues finding out, and the potential for negative consequences relating to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency's mandatory reporting requirement. Conclusions: The findings provide initial evidence that despite good mental health literacy, and personal experience with mental illness, significant barriers exist for mental health professionals seeking help for mental health conditions. This is a significant area requiring further attention. Future research to better understand the perceived barriers and association between attitudes toward mental illness and help-seeking in this population is required. Education around mandatory reporting requirements may help to improve help-seeking behaviour.




Edwards, J. L., & Crisp, D. A. (2017). Seeking help for psychological distress: Barriers for mental health professionals. Australian Journal of Psychology, 69(3), 218–225.

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