Improving Mental Health Help-Seeking Behaviours for Male Students: A Framework for Developing a Complex Intervention

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Men are less likely to seek help for mental health difficulties and this process is often used to help explain the disproportionally higher suicide rates compared to women. Furthermore, university students are often regarded as a vulnerable population group with a lower propensity to seek help. Thus, male students are a very high-risk group that is even more reluctant to seek help for mental health difficulties, placing them at high risk of suicide. Often, student mental health problems are highlighted in the media, but very few evidence-based solutions specifically designed for male students exist. The current paper seeks to provide a comprehensive framework about how to better design mental health interventions that seek to improve male students’ willingness to access psychological support. The Medical Research Council’s (MRC’s) framework for developing a complex intervention was used to develop an intervention relevant to male students. In this paper, previous help-seeking interventions and their evaluation methods are first described, secondly, a theoretical framework outlining the important factors male students face when accessing support, and thirdly, how these factors can be mapped onto a model of behaviour change to inform the development of an evidence-based intervention are discussed. Finally, an example intervention with specific functions and behaviour change techniques is provided to demonstrate how this framework can be implemented and evaluated. It is hoped that this framework can be used to help reduce the disparity between male and female students seeking mental health support.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4965
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number14
Early online date9 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020


  • COM-B
  • Help-seeking
  • Interventions
  • MRC complex intervention
  • Men
  • Mental health
  • Students


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