The American Psychiatric Association (APA) today released a study conducted by Harris Interactive® that shows stigma may still play a significant role in preventing many military members and military spouses from obtaining the mental health care they need. The survey shows that six in ten military members (61%) think that seeking help for mental health concerns would have at least some negative impact on their career. In addition, about half of military members (53%) believe that others will think less of them if they seek help for mental health concerns.
A unique characteristic of this survey is that military spouses are given a voice, and share their perceptions of mental health issues, understanding, and treatment. “It’s important to remember that the mental health trials that service members experience can have a ripple effect throughout their immediate family while they are serving and upon their return home,” said Carolyn B. Robinowitz, M.D., president of the American Psychiatric Association.
While respondents generally rated their overall mental health as good or excellent (including 71% of military members and 75% of military spouses), many report regularly experiencing common symptoms of mental illness. This includes nearly half (48%) that report difficulty sleeping at least twice a week and about a third (34%) that report a lack of interest in daily activities at least twice a week. The majority of spouses also reported a lot or a little stress from handling domestic issues alone (60%) and single parenting (54%).
In addition, respondents reported low levels of knowledge when it comes to common warning signs of, and treatment options for, mental health issues that may result from being deployed to or serving in support of a war zone. The survey showed that about half of military members (49%) and military spouses (53%) say they are somewhat or not at all knowledgeable about the warning signs of mental health concerns from such service and about 6 in 10 military members (59%) and two thirds of military spouses (66%) say they know little or nothing at all about effective treatments that exist for mental health concerns that may arise from serving in a war zone.
“Of particular concern is the fact that over a quarter of military members (26%) and about a fifth of military spouses (18%) say they know nothing at all about effective mental health treatments for issues that may arise from their service in a war zone,” said Dr. Robinowitz.
Monday, May 05, 2008
From the APA: