Mental Health-Related Beliefs as a Barrier to Service Use for Military Personnel and Veterans: A Review

National Center for PTSD, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, 150 South Huntington Ave. (116B-5), Boston, MA 02116, USA.
Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.) (Impact Factor: 1.99). 02/2011; 62(2):135-42. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Although military personnel are at high risk of mental health problems, research findings indicate that many military personnel and veterans do not seek needed mental health care. Thus it is critical to identify factors that interfere with the use of mental health services for this population, and where possible, intervene to reduce barriers to care. The overarching goal of this review was to examine what is known with regard to concerns about public stigma and personal beliefs about mental illness and mental health treatment as potential barriers to service use in military and veteran populations and to provide recommendations for future research on this topic.
Fifteen empirical articles on mental health beliefs and service use were identified via a review of the military and veteran literature included in PsycINFO and PubMed databases.
Although results suggest that mental health beliefs may be an important predictor of service use for this population, several gaps were identified in the current literature. Limitations include a lack of attention to the association between mental health beliefs and service use, a limited focus on personal beliefs about mental illness and mental health treatment, and the application of measures of mental health beliefs with questionable or undocumented psychometric properties.
Studies that attend to these important issues and that examine mental health beliefs in the broader context within which decisions about seeking health care are made can be used to best target resources to engage military personnel and veterans in health care.

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