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Introduction

Relationships Australia has a keen interest in improving people’s access to, and experience of, services.  In previous online surveys we have explored how people accessing Relationships Australia’s website undertake research to find a counsellor, their experience of counselling, and counselling engagement.

The research literature has identified individual and structural barriers that can also impact on an individual’s use of services.  Studies consistently find, for example, consultation rates and help-seeking patterns in men to be at much lower levels than for women, especially where the person is experiencing emotional problems and/or depressive symptoms.  Barriers identified in health studies include difficulty making an appointment and worry about wasting the professional’s time.

Other studies have looked at age-related barriers to help-seeking.  In a meta-analysis of young people’s barriers to service use, perceived stigma and embarrassment, problems recognising symptoms (poor mental health literacy), and a preference for self-reliance were found to be the most important barriers to help-seeking.  Lower socio-economic groups have been found to be more likely to report ‘emotional’ barriers and higher socio-economic groups are more likely to report ‘practical’ barriers, while help-seeking can also be compounded by limited availability of inclusive services that can provide culturally sensitive interventions, services and interpreters.

In June 2017, we sought to understand whether people are experiencing barriers when they are accessing Relationships Australia’s services.  This month’s survey also included a link to a voluntary survey that explores barriers to help seeking in greater detail.

Relationships Australia State and Territory websites