Self-Efficacy and Stigma in Seeking Mental Health Services in the U.S. Army
Koeppl, Patrick Thomas
Gold, Robert S.
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Among the highest personal costs, and perhaps the most pervasive and potentially disabling consequences of engaging the U.S. military in combat operations, is the threat to the psychological health of the servicemen and women and the associated impacts on their families. Negative stigma associated with seeking mental health services undermines servicemen and women's access to such services and to seeking the care they require, either for themselves or their families. While negative stigma is well documented in servicemen and women and their families, little has been done to understand the role self-efficacy plays in relation to servicemen and women seeking such services. This study assessed and evaluated aspects of stigma associated with seeking mental health services among members of the U.S. Army, and explored the role self-efficacy plays in predicting the seeking of those services. It also sought to explore and understand the factors which predict servicemen and women's willingness to seek mental health services for themselves and their children in an environment where stigmatization of those who seek such services is high. This study included an analysis of data from a 53-item email survey administered to active-duty Army servicemen and women in 2007. Stigma was found to be the primary barrier to servicemen and women's willingness to seek care for themselves or for a child, and self-efficacy was found to moderate the relationship between stigma and willingness to seek mental health services. The results of this study will provide information pertinent to developing strategies and interventions for the U.S. Army to assist their servicemen and women (and their families) in overcoming negative stigma associated with seeking mental health services and for improving the access to and use of mental health services offered by the Army.