Parents' and peers' responses to adolescent depression: The development of the Intentions to Provide Mental Health Support Scale

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Introduction or Rationale:Research has consistently indicated that young people with depression are unlikely to seek professional support. Instead, many depressed adolescents state that they prefer informal support from members of their social network, such as parents and friends. This informal support is hypothesised to then impact mental health service utilisation. However, more needs to be understood about how parents and peers respond to the symptoms of depression in adolescence. This is compounded by the absence of a standardised and validated instrument that can measure parents’ and peers’ responses. Objectives (of project and or research): This research aimed to develop an Intentions to Provide Mental Health Support Scale, and pilot the scale with a representative sample of parents and young people. This pilot study is conducted with the aim of informing a wider study on the factors that may be associated with parents’ and peers’ responses to adolescent depression. It is proposed that the development of this instrument will help to standardise the measurement of knowledge of appropriate help – a key component of mental health literacy (Jorm et al., 1997). Methods or Approach: For this study, the target construct was defined, and an item pool was developed based on questions used in previous research to assess help-giving intentions. The resulting items consisted of statements that reflected an intention to carry out a certain action, paired with a four-point ‘Extremely unlikely’ to ‘Extremely likely’ response scale. This instrument was piloted as part of a questionnaire assessing factors associated with responses to depression, such as empathy. Young people aged 12-18 years were recruited through purposive sampling of a post-primary school in County Carlow, Republic of Ireland. Their parents were also recruited through communication via the school. Results or Practice/Policy Implications: Results of the pilot study will be reported. It is proposed that the development of this instrument will lead to more detailed knowledge on informal helping responses, which will impact on mental health education policies and practices, and service utilisation promotion. Conclusion: The development of the Intentions to Provide Mental Health Support Scale will facilitate research that explores the informal support offered by members of an individuals’ social network. Continued validation and reliability analyses will determine the final version of the instrument. Future research will also help to assess whether intentions to provide support are associated with other factors such as sex, age, and empathy.

Poster First Author: 
Sadhbh Byrne
Conference Presented At: 
IAYMH 2015
Poster Date: 
October, 2015
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