Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology




School of Arts and Humanities




Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions


Ishikawa, A., Rickwood, D., Bariola, E., & Bhullar, N. (2022). Autonomy versus support: Self-reliance and help-seeking for mental health problems in young people. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, Advance online publication.


Purpose: Many young people with mental ill-health do not seek support, and developmental growth in self-reliance may be a barrier to help-seeking. Increasing autonomy is a positive developmental task for youth and a key aspect of resilience. This study examined the influence of perceived social support and resilience on the previously unexamined relationship between self-reliance and intentions to seek help from informal, professional, and self-help sources for mental health problems. Methods: An online survey was completed by a representative Australian community sample of 5,203 young people aged 12–25 years (half female), in May–June 2020. Results: Path analysis showed the hypothesised conceptual model did not fit the data well, but a modified model was a good fit. Higher self-reliance was associated with lower intentions to seek informal and professional help, as expected, but not with greater intentions for self-help. The relationship between self-reliance and informal help-seeking intentions was fully mediated by perceived social support, whereas the relationship between self-reliance and professional help-seeking was also direct. Perceived social support fully mediated the relationship between self-reliance and resilience. Intentions to use self-help were not influenced by variables in the study, but higher self-help intentions were associated with higher professional help-seeking intentions. Associations were consistent across age and gender groups. Conclusion: The results show the critical role of social support for combating some of the unhelpful aspects of self-reliance for mental health help-seeking in young people. Future research should explore how self-reliance can hinder or be harnessed to facilitate accessing appropriate mental health.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.