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EMPLOYMENT / EDUCATION / TRAINING

Mental health treatment-related stigma and professional help seeking among student veterans

June, 2017
Article:

Record numbers of military veterans are enrolling at colleges/universities across the United States. Although a substantive subset might suffer from mental health problems, the majority of these students might not be amenable to utilizing services. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of treatment-related stigma in intentions to seek professional help among undergraduate student veterans at a university on the U.S. Gulf Coast.  The findings will inform research and the provision of services for addressing the mental health needs of this substantive subpopulation of college students in the United States.

Abstract

Record numbers of military veterans are enrolling at colleges/universities across the United States. Although a substantive subset might suffer from mental health problems, the majority of these students might not be amenable to utilizing services. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of treatment-related stigma in intentions to seek professional help among undergraduate student veterans at a university on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Focusing on 251 veterans and a gender-matched comparison group of 251 nonveterans, student veterans endorsed higher probabilities of seeking care from physicians (d = .77) and psychologists or other professionals (d = .67). In addition, nonveteran students had greater self-stigma about seeking help (d = −.27) but veterans had more negative beliefs about treatment efficacy (d = 1.07). When compared with veterans who did not exceed clinical thresholds, those with a probable need for treatment had more stigma (ds = .63). Multivariate analyses also revealed an inverse main effect of self-stigma on intentions to seek help from both professional categories. However, military experience differentially moderated associations between treatment-related beliefs and intentions to seek mental health services. Finally, exploratory analyses identified that student veterans were most likely to engage in therapy/counseling at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center or Clinic, Vet Center, or other noninstitutionally sponsored settings in the community (e.g., private practices, faith-based organizations). Looking ahead, these findings will inform research and the provision of services for addressing the mental health needs of this substantive subpopulation of college students in the United States.

Full Reference

Currier, J.M., McDermott, R.C., McCormick, W.H., 2017. Mental health treatment-related stigma and professional help seeking among student veterans. Psychological Services, 14(4), pp.531-542.

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