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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Mental health stigmatisation in deployed UK Armed Forces: a principal components analysis

December, 2015
Article:

This study assesses the association of stigma and barriers to care among deployed personnel experiencing mental health symptoms.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: UK military research suggests that there is a significant link between current psychological symptoms, mental health stigmatisation and perceived barriers to care (stigma/BTC). Few studies have explored the construct of stigma/BTC in depth amongst deployed UK military personnel. METHOD: Three survey datasets containing a stigma/BTC scale obtained during UK deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan were combined (n=3405 personnel). Principal component analysis was used to identify the key components of stigma/BTC. The relationship between psychological symptoms, the stigma/BTC components and help seeking were examined. RESULTS: Two components were identified: 'potential loss of personal military credibility and trust' (stigma Component 1, five items, 49.4% total model variance) and 'negative perceptions of mental health services and barriers to help seeking' (Component 2, six items, 11.2% total model variance). Component 1 was endorsed by 37.8% and Component 2 by 9.4% of personnel. Component 1 was associated with both assessed and subjective mental health, medical appointments and admission to hospital. Stigma Component 2 was associated with subjective and assessed mental health but not with medical appointments. Neither component was associated with help-seeking for subjective psycho-social problems. CONCLUSIONS: Potential loss of credibility and trust appeared to be associated with help-seeking for medical reasons but not for help-seeking for subjective psychosocial problems. Those experiencing psychological symptoms appeared to minimise the effects of stigma by seeking out a socially acceptable route into care, such as the medical consultation, whereas those who experienced a subjective mental health problem appeared willing to seek help from any source.

Full Reference

Fertout M, Jones N, Keeling M, et al. (2015) Mental health stigmatisation in deployed UK Armed Forces: a principal components analysis. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps 2015;161 (Supp 1):i69i76

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