An empirical examination of stigma toward mental health problems and psychotherapy use in veterans and active duty service members
Goode, J., Swift, J.K. (2019). An empirical examination of stigma toward mental health problems and psychotherapy use in veterans and active duty service members. Military Psychology, 31:4, 335-345, DOI: 10.1080/08995605.2019.1630231
Abstract Created by REACH:
The stigma (i.e., negative perceptions) around mental health concerns and treatmentseeking behaviors among military service members and veterans is concerning because it may reduce the likelihood that service members and veterans seek needed mental health treatment. The purpose of this study was to understand service member and veteran attitudes toward mental health concerns and treatment-seeking behavior. A sample of active duty service members and veterans (N = 165) was randomly assigned to read one of four vignettes (i.e., short fictional story). The four vignettes included a description of a veteran with: (1) no mental health concerns and no treatment (2) mental health concerns but did not seek treatment (3) mental health concerns and sought treatment (4) no mental health concerns and sought treatment (i.e., seeking to better his life) Participants then reported their perceptions of others’ negative attitudes (i.e., public attitudes) about individuals with mental health concerns and treatment-seeking behaviors based on the vignette they were assigned. Participants also reported their personal attitudes about treatment-seeking behaviors and their self-stigma (i.e., negative perspective about oneself seeking treatment). Findings suggest that seeking treatment was viewed more positively than having mental health concerns.
Branch of Service:
Active duty service member
Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)
Aged (65 yrs & older)
Goode, Jonathan, Swift, Joshua K.
Although many Veterans and active duty service members experience mental health problems, most do not seek out any sort of mental health help. Stigma (a significant predictor of treatment-seeking) has been documented among Veterans and active duty service members; however, previous research on stigma in these groups has primarily utilized correlational and qualitative designs. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of stigma toward mental health problems in Veterans and active duty service members using an experimental design. One hundred sixty-five Veterans and active duty service members were randomized to read a vignette that described a Veteran who either did or did not experience a mental health problem and did or did not seek psychotherapy. Results indicated that the participants held more stigmatizing attitudes toward the Veteran who was described as having a mental health problem, but not toward the Veteran who was described as seeking psychotherapy. Additionally, participants held more positive attitudes toward the Veteran, compared to the attitudes that they believed other military members would hold. Last, with this sample of Veterans and active duty service members, self-stigma toward seeking psychotherapy was found to partially mediate the relationship between perceived public stigma and attitudes. Implications for addressing stigma in military service members and Veterans are discussed.
Taylor & Francis
Department of Psychology, Idaho State University, JG
Department of Psychology, Idaho State University, JKS
help-seeking attitudes, military service members, stigma, veterans
REACH Publication Type: