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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Mental Health, Stigmatising Beliefs, Barriers to Care and Help-Seeking in a Non-Deployed Sample of UK Army Personnel

October, 2013
Article:

Stigmatising beliefs about seeking help for mental health problems are commonplace among military personnel. This study examined the psychological determinants of help -seeking in a randomly chosen sample of British Army personnel. It explores thoroughly beliefs that contribute to mental health stigma, barriers to care and help-seeking behaviours.

Abstract

Stigmatising beliefs about seeking help for mental health problems and perceived barriers to care (stigma/BTC) are commonplace among military personnel; how they influence help-seeking is unclear. This research sets out to explore the role of stigma/BTC in mental health help-seeking among British Army personnel. The response rate was 81.5% (n=484). 35.0% screened positive for harmful alcohol use, 25.2% for common mental disorder symptoms, and 12.4% for probable PTSD. 40.0% of symptomatic personnel had not sought help. 70.3% of alcohol misusers had not sought any form of help; over 80% of probable mental health cases believed that seeking support was helpful or necessary and required courage or strength. Non-medical help sources were accessed more frequently than military medical services. Stigma/BTC significantly affected probable mental health cases but not alcohol misusers. Greater stigmatisation/BTC were associated with both interest in and receiving support. Friends or family were the commonest preferred and actual help source; unit commanders were among the least preferred but were the second most commonly accessed help source. A substantial number of symptomatic personnel had not sought help. The highest levels of stigma/ BTC were most strongly associated with interest in receiving help. Perceptions of potential negative occupational and social consequences of help-seeking and current mental health status may influence the decision to seek support. Military stigma reduction strategies may need to focus upon reassuring personnel and their families that adverse consequences are not inevitable and that help-seeking from any source may be a useful step in addressing mental health problems. Alcohol misusers may benefit from a strategy that helps them to view their alcohol use as potentially socially and occupationally problematic.

Full Reference

Jones N, Twardzicki M, Fertout M, Jackson T, Greenberg N (2013) Mental Health, Stigmatising Beliefs, Barriers to Care and Help-Seeking in a Non-Deployed Sample of UK Army Personnel. J Psychol Psychother 3: 129. doi: 10.41722161-0487.1000129.

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