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National Guard families after combat: Mental health, use of mental health services, and perceived treatment barriers

APA Citation:

Gorman, L. A., Blow, A. J., Ames, B. D., & Reed, P. L. (2011). National Guard families after combat: Mental health, use of mental health services, and perceived treatment barriers. Psychiatric Services, 62(1), 28-34. https://doi.org/10.1176/ps.62.1.pss6201_0028

Abstract Created by REACH:

Mental health symptoms, use of provided mental health services, and perceived barriers to service utilization were assessed among members of the National Guard and their spouses/partners. In this sample, over a third of participants indicated having at least one mental health problem. Service members most often cited embarrassmentrelated reasons for not utilizing mental health care, whereas female partners indicated more pragmatic reasons for not utilizing these services.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member
Military families


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study


Gorman, Lisa A., Blow, Adrian J., Ames, Barbara D., Reed, Philip L.


Objective: National Guard forces have deployed in large numbers to Iraq and Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to assess mental health symptoms, utilization of mental health services, and perceived barriers to service use among National Guard members and their significant others (including spouses and others with whom they share a committed relationship) from a Midwestern state. Methods: Participants were recruited for the study at military-sponsored reintegration workshops, which took place 45-90 days after service members' return from deployment. A sample of 332 National Guard members and 212 significant others volunteered to complete a survey that assessed mental health symptoms, service utilization, and barriers to treatment. Results: Forty percent of National Guard members and 34% of significant others met the screening criteria for one or more mental health problems. Of those meeting the criteria, 53% reported seeking help of some kind (50% of soldiers; 61% of significant others). Stigma associated with mental health care and concerns about service utilization appearing on military records ranked high as barriers among service members. Concerns about the influence of mental health issues on career advancement were of note. For significant others, barriers included the costs of mental health care, trouble with scheduling appointments, difficulty in getting time off work, and not knowing where to get help. Conclusions: The mental health effects of combat on the soldier and his or her significant other remain a challenge for National Guard families, who often reside in communities that show little understanding of the psychological costs of war. Barriers remain for mental health service utilization.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

American Psychiatric Association

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

University Outreach and Engagement-National Guard Project, Michigan State University, LAG
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, AJB
Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Michigan State University, BDA
Department of Epidemiology and the Biomedical Research Informatics Core, Michigan State University, PLR


mental health, patient acceptance of health care, community mental health services, utilization, mental disorders, prevention & control, military personnel psychology, adolescent, adult, afghan campaign 2001-, career mobility, female, health care costs, humans, iraq war, 2003-2011, male, mass screening, mental disorders, epidemiology, middle-aged, midwestern united states, prevalence, social stigma

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


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