Parenting Style and Help-Seeking for Child Anxiety and Depression: A Vignette Study

Hayley Pomerantz, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

Anxiety and depression are known to have a significant impact on the daily functioning of children and their families; yet only a fraction of diagnosed children receive treatment from professional mental health services. To better understand the discrepancy between high rates of child psychopathology and low rates of mental health service use, the current study examined parenting style and the time at which a parent decides to seek mental health treatment for their child. The current study hypothesized that parents would seek help when their child’s symptoms and interference were moderate. It also hypothesized that parents with an authoritative or permissive parenting style would seek help earlier than parents with an authoritarian style. Additionally, it was hypothesized that parents would seek help for child depression earlier and more often than for child anxiety. Results indicated that parents sought help for their children when symptoms and interference were mild in severity. Parents sought help for their child significantly earlier for depression than for anxiety. No significant difference in help-seeking points was found between authoritative, authoritarian, or permissive parenting styles. Limitations of the current study and future directions are discussed.