A qualitative exploration of help -seeking behaviors among White male high school students

Rebecca Timlin-Scalera, Fordham University


The present qualitative study was an exploration of the help-seeking behaviors of a select group of White, male adolescents. The purpose of the study was to understand and identify the mental health stressors in these adolescents' lives, as well as to identify and understand the factors that are involved with their decisions to seek or not seek help when they encounter those stressors. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 22 male adolescents from this demographic group, 4 of their female adolescent counterparts, 4 of the males' parents, and 5 mental health staff members from the males' high school. Open, axial, and selective themes emerged from the data analysis, yielding a grounded theory. The grounded theory manifested from a total of 48 open, 30 axial, and 8 selective categories. The grounded theory that emerged is that the town culture of success, high expectations, and small-town gossip in which these adolescents live creates not only a tremendous amount of stress for males to be successful in all areas, but also contributes to a stigma about males seeking help for their problems. While these males felt that they would be perceived as weak if they sought help with problems, and they had concerns about confidentiality, they may be motivated to seek help under certain conditions. Namely, most felt that they would be more likely to seek help if they were familiar with the mental health professional and the mental health field including the rationale for, and benefits from, seeking professional help. Another aspect of male help-seeking behaviors that emerged is that males would be more inclined to seek help and possibly gain more from that help if they were engaged at a kinesthetic and problem solving level rather than a traditional talking and listening counseling style. Many interviewees also felt that professional help with this population should include a component of assisting males in finding a niche to improve their self-esteem and affiliations with others. Implications for future research, and implications for school and community professionals and parents are discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Timlin-Scalera, Rebecca, "A qualitative exploration of help -seeking behaviors among White male high school students" (2001). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3040404.