“Soldiers who are most in need of mental health care are also the ones who are less likely to ask for or receive care,” said Neil Greenberg, M.D., surgeon commander in the Royal Navy. Part of the reason is their concern about how seeking or accepting care might negatively affect their careers or result in denigration by their fellow soldiers or officers.
Greenberg appeared on a panel with other researchers from the Technical Cooperation Program, whose members include representatives from the U.S., Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
However, other factors also kept service members from treatment, said Amy Adler, Ph.D., of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. “A positive view of mental health treatment predicts greater treatment-seeking, but higher scores on measures of self-reliance predict lower willingness,” she said.
A survey of 8,841 Canadian troops looking at time from onset to treatment found, among other things, that younger troops sought care sooner but that those in service for shorter time waited longer, said Canada’s Deniz Fikretoglu, Ph.D., a defence scientist at the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research in Toronto.
“Also, the higher the rank, the less likely they were to seek care, because they thought it would affect their subordinates’ perception of their leadership abilities and result in deaths among their troops,” said Fikretoglu. “We have to look beyond the fear of stigma. Troops have many more concerns.”
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