Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2018 Aug 25;27(8):1023-1031. Epub 2018 Jan 25.
School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK.
Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders experienced by children, but only a minority of these children access professional help. Understanding the difficulties parents face seeking support for child anxiety disorders could inform targeted interventions to improve treatment access. The aims of the study were to identify barriers and facilitators to seeking and accessing professional support for child anxiety disorders, and ways to minimise these barriers. A qualitative interview study was conducted with parents of 16 children (aged 7-11 years) with anxiety disorders identified through screening in schools. Barriers and facilitators were identified in relation to four distinct stages in the help-seeking process: parents recognising the anxiety difficulty, parents recognising the need for professional support, parents contacting professionals, and families receiving professional support. Barriers and facilitators at each stage related to the child's difficulties, the role of the parent, and parent perceptions of professionals and services. Findings illustrate the need (1) for readily available tools to help parents and professionals identify clinically significant anxiety in children, (2) to ensure that families and professionals can easily access guidance on the help-seeking process and available support, and (3) to ensure existing services offer sufficient provision for less severe difficulties that incorporates direct support for parents.