Perceived stigma and barriers to care in UK Armed Forces personnel and veterans with and without probable mental disorders
Williamson V., Greenberg N., Stevelink SAM.
© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Previous studies have found that perceptions of mental health related stigma can negatively impact help-seeking, particularly in military samples. Moreover, perceptions of stigma and barriers to care can vary between individuals with different psychiatric disorders. The aim of this study was to examine whether perceptions of stigma and barriers to care differed in a UK military sample between those with and without a current likely mental health diagnosis. Method: Structured telephone interviews were carried out with 1432 service personnel and veterans who reported recent subjective mental ill health in the last 3 years. Participants completed self-reported measures relating to perceived stigma, barriers to care and psychological wellbeing. Results: Those meeting criteria for probable common mental disorders (CMD) and PTSD were significantly more likely to report concerns relating to perceived and internalised stigma and barriers to care compared to participants without a likely mental disorder. Compared to individuals with likely CMD and alcohol misuse, those with probable PTSD reported higher levels of stigma-related concerns and barriers to care - although this difference was not significantly different. Conclusions: These results indicate that perceptions of stigma continue to exist in UK serving personnel and military veterans with current probable mental disorders. Efforts to address particular concerns (e.g. being seen as weak; difficulty accessing appointments) may be worthwhile and, ultimately, lead to improvements in military personnel and veteran wellbeing.