Barriers to seeking help for an emotional or mental health condition among Australian emergency services workers

Wavne Rikkers, David Lawrence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Not all emergency services workers with a developing mental health condition seek help. Barriers to helpseeking in this population include stigma, being seen as weak, career and confidentiality concerns, and not being able to take time off from work. Barriers are widespread across the sector and appropriate interventions need to be tailored to this population. The literature refers to research mostly undertaken in single sectors or organisations, which this study sought to address by examining data from “Answering the Call”, a national study of the mental health and wellbeing of a large cohort of emergency services personnel. We aimed to see if help-seeking barriers could be grouped in some way and, if so, which demographic and psychological factors were associated with those groups. Latent class analysis found people could be grouped according to the number of barriers reported (i.e., lots, some, or a few) but not by the types of barriers reported. Factors associated with reporting lots of barriers included being in the police sector, being male, having severe levels of probable PTSD or psychological distress, low levels of receiving support, and high levels of workplace stress. The most commonly reported barrier was preferring to handle problems on one’s own or with family/friends. This implies that the large, complex array of factors affecting people’s help-seeking leads to a sense of feeling overwhelmed and preferring to deal with problems on their own.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-40
Number of pages18
JournalAustralasian Journal of Disaster and Trauma Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022


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