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Adolescence and early adulthood is the peak age of onset for many mental disorders, yet this age group is less likely than others to seek professional help. Young people instead prefer to turn to informal sources of support such as family and friends.

As friends become increasingly important during adolescence, a friend is often the first to know if a young person is experiencing a mental health problem. This means that young people are in a position to both support their friends going through a tough time and to seek help from an adult (adult help) for a friend in a timely way.

This research looked at the barriers and supports to young people seeking adult help for a friend experiencing mental health problems. It focused specifically on the influence that schools might have on young people’s propensity to seek adult help for a friend.

The focus on schools makes sense because almost all young people in NSW attend school and are influenced by their school environment and by school practices. Schools also provide a near-universal platform on which to build improvements in the health and wellbeing of young people. For young people without supportive families, schools can sometimes be the first or only place where they can seek and receive the help they need.

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