Methods: This study is a secondary analysis of data from a cross-sectional study of middle and high school students' wellbeing, school, family and interpersonal life. The School Success Profile was the instrument used to collect data in the original study (Bowen & Richman, 2001). Exploratory analyses were used to examine the trends in middle school students' willingness to seek help. The analyses were carried out across grade levels (6th, 7th and 8th), gender and ethnicity (Euro- and African-American). Odds ratios were used to examine differences in likelihood of help seeking and differences in levels of somatic complaints between help seekers and non-help seekers.
Results: Examination of odds ratios indicated that Euro-American females were more likely to express intentions to seek help than members of others gender and racial groups. Additionally, African American males were the least likely to express intentions to seek help. Across grade levels, the odds ratio comparing Euro-American females and African-American males was 1.36 (95%CI: 1.21, 1.53). The increased odds of seeking help by Euro-American females when they were compared to African-American males were also found within grade levels (6th, 7th and 8th). Additionally, Euro-American females were less likely to self-report high levels of somatic complaints when compared to African-American males. Across grade levels, the odds ratio comparing Euro-American females and African-American males regarding expressions of high levels of somatic complaints was .15 (95%CI: .10, .22). Results within grade level comparisons between Euro-American females and African American males only found differences in the odds of expressing high level of somatic complaints among 7th and 8th graders. Logistic regression analyses did not find evidence that supportive relationships with a teacher, school counselor, peer or parents were associated with youth's willingness to seek help.
Conclusions and Implications: This study provides evidence of a gap between African-American males and Euro-American females in their willingness to seek help in times of interpersonal trouble. Those gaps correspond with increased likelihood of subclinical internalizing behavior disturbances (somatic complaints). Discussion of the implications of these findings for those seeking to identify interpersonal and attitudinal factors that contribute to the opportunity gaps experience by African- American youth will be addressed.