Objectives: Attitudinal and practical barriers prevent many young people who are experiencing mental health problems
from seeking professional help. The influence of others can help young people to overcome barriers to help seeking.
Understanding the relative influence of parents and others on the help-seeking decision and the extent of parent–child
agreement on the severity of the young person’s problems, may be helpful in facilitating intake processes in child and
adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).
Methods: One hundred and nineteen parent–child (14–18-years-old) dyads attending an initial appointment at a Sydney
and regional CAMHS completed the parent and youth Strength and Difficulties Questionnaires (SDQs) prior to their
assessment interview. Parents and children also answered three equivalent questions on sources of influence in their
decision to access services.
Results: Ninety-four per cent of young people reported that others had influenced their decision to access help, with
parents being the strongest influence. Higher levels of parental influence in the help-seeking process were related to
greater disagreement between parent and child on the severity of the problems. Parent and child ratings of influence
were related to the severity of externalizing problems.
Conclusion: The findings are consistent with models that highlight help seeking as a social process involving high
degrees of influence particularly from parents. Referral sources and clinicians need to be aware of the effects of discrepant
views between parent and child regarding the presenting problem. To facilitate joint therapy it may be helpful for
clinicians to address the level of influence involved in having the young person attend their first appointment with parents