We sought to determine the relationship between emotional competence and willingness to seek help for emotional problems and suicidal ideation. A survey of 300 university undergraduates assessed emotional competence (skill at emotion perception, managing self-relevant emotions, and managing others' emotions), hopelessness, willingness to seek help from health professionals (e.g. counsellor) and nonprofessionals (friends, family), and perceived usefulness of past help-seeking experience. Those who reported feeling less skilled at managing emotions were less willing to seek help from family and friends for both emotional problems and suicidal ideation and less willing to seek help from health professionals for suicidal ideation. These relationships held even after controlling for hopelessness, sex, and past help-seeking experience. Mediational analysis suggested that people low in managing others' emotions were less willing to seek help from professionals because they had had poorer experiences with mental health professionals in the past. There was no significant relationship between emotion perception skill and willingness to seek help. People most likely to be in need of help (those poor at managing emotions) were the least willing to seek it, and if they did seek it, were the least likely to benefit from it.