The role of self-help in the treatment of mild anxiety disorders in young people: an evidence-based review
Debra Rickwood1,2, Sally Bradford3
1Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia; 2headspace: National Youth Mental Health Foundation, North Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 3Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Abstract: Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems experienced by young people, and even mild anxiety can significantly limit social, emotional, and cognitive development into adulthood. It is, therefore, essential that anxiety is treated as early and effectively as possible. Young people are unlikely, however, to seek professional treatment for their problems, increasing their chance of serious long-term problems such as impaired peer relations and low self-esteem. The barriers young people face to accessing services are well documented, and self-help resources may provide an alternative option to respond to early manifestations of anxiety disorders. This article reviews the potential benefits of self-help treatments for anxiety and the evidence for their effectiveness. Despite using inclusive review criteria, only six relevant studies were found. The results of these studies show that there is some evidence for the use of self-help interventions for anxiety in young people, but like the research with adult populations, the overall quality of the studies is poor and there is need for further and more rigorous research.
Keywords: adolescent, young adult, children, mental disorder, self-administered, bibliotherapy, therapist-guided
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