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Adult attachment, psychological distress and help-seeking in university students: Findings from a cross-sectional online survey in England

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalMental Health & Prevention
Early online date27 Nov 2018
StatePublished - Mar 2019
We examine psychological distress and mental health help-seeking in UK university students via an online survey of 461 students, of whom 273 reported having psychological distress. We examined the prevalence and predictors of help-seeking in students with psychological distress, with a focus on the role of adult attachment styles along with social support and perceived stigma. Overall, 22% of the sample reported severe psychological distress and 37% reported mild/moderate psychological distress. Of students reporting severe psychological distress, 58% sought help in the past year and 30% were receiving counselling or therapy. In the group with mild/moderate psychological distress, 30% reported help-seeking and 17% were receiving counselling or therapy. For students with psychological distress, being older, having more psychological distress, and higher anxious attachment predicted mental health help-seeking. Social support and perceived mental health stigma did not predict help-seeking in the regression model. There was some evidence that the relationship between avoidant attachment style and help-seeking may depend on level of psychological distress experienced (moderating role). Overall, the results point to considerable unmet mental health needs in the UK university environment. Targeted strategies to promote mental health help-seeking in younger students may be beneficial.

    Research areas

  • Help-seeking, Mental health, Attachment Students, Psychological distress

Related faculties, schools or groups

External organisations

  • Newcastle University
  • Durham University
  • University of York

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