Purpose: Adolescents are the least likely to seek help for their mental health problems. School may be an important route to improve early recognition of adolescents with mental health problems in need for support, but little is known about the barriers to school support.
Materials and methods: Data were collected in a longitudinal cohort study of Dutch adolescents (age 12-16) in secondary school (n = 956). We assessed the relation between level of psychosocial problems at the beginning of the school year (T1) and the support used in school at the end of that school year (T2), whether the willingness to talk to others (measured at T1) mediates this relation, and whether stigma towards help-seeking (T1) moderates this mediation.
Results: Adolescents with more psychosocial problems were more likely to use support in school and were less willing to talk to others about their problems, but the willingness to talk to others was not a mediator. Stigma moderated the relationship between psychosocial problems and willingness to talk to others.
Conclusions: Most adolescents with psychosocial problems get support in Dutch secondary school regardless of their willingness to talk to others about their problems. However, perceiving stigma towards help-seeking makes it less likely for someone to talk about their problems.