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