Barriers for Seeking Psychological Help for Mental Health Disorders: A sample of Undergraduate Students in Sri Lanka

Document Type: Original Research


Institute of Human Resource Advancement, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka


Stigma associated with mental illness is identified as a potential barrier for seeking psychological help for mental health disorders. The purpose of this study is to assess the perceived barriers and supporting factors and to find out the strategies to promote the help seeking behavior among university students. 16 in-depth interviews were conducted with students and students’ counselors from three state universities in Sri Lanka. Already developed and tested three questionnaires on help seeking behavior were used to develop guidelines. Barriers, supporting factors and strategies to promote counseling services were investigated. According to the findings, the most significant barrier for seeking counseling services is mental illness stigma. Males have a greater level of mental illness stigma than female. The rest of barriers are reluctance to share their problems with counselors, self-dependency, lack of trust on counselors, and lack of awareness about services availability. Most significant supporting factors are availability of free counseling services, proximity, and easy access to the counseling service. The strategies for promoting counseling services are promoting mental health education among students; making easy access to counselors; and developing a good relationship between students and counselors.


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