Military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported high levels of psychological problems, according the Department of Veterans Affairs. “This data revealed that in 2008 rates of PTSD were at 21.8%, rates of depression were at 17.4%, rates of alcohol abuse were at 7.1%, and rates of drug abuse were at 3.0%,” said Thomas W. Britt of the U.S. Army Medical Research Unit of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Germany. “Although many veterans report adjustment problems following combat, only a minority of soldiers get help for their difﬁculties.” Statistics show that as few as one in four soldiers that need help actually receive it. Some of the barriers that prevent military personnel from seeking help are the stigma attached to mental health problems, the affect it could have on their careers, and the availability of services. Britt believes that commissioned officers (Officers) and non-commissioned officers (NCO), both of whom are in a position of authority in the military, directly influence the stigma and access to mental health services. “In the present research, we investigate the role positive and negative leadership behaviors have in predicting stigma and practical barriers, both between combat veterans and within combat veterans over a 3-month time period.”
For his study, Britt assessed over 1,400 combat soldiers 8, 12, and 16 weeks after they returned home. He asked them how their leaders’ attitudes and behaviors affected their willingness to seek mental health services and found that they directly influenced both stigma and practical barriers to seeking help. “In the present study, negative/destructive leader behaviors were more strongly linked to stigma, whereas positive/constructive leader behaviors were more strongly linked to practical barriers,” said Britt. “These ﬁndings are consistent with the argument that leaders who engage in more positive behaviors may be more likely to remove practical impediments, clarify procedures, and make accommodations for those seeking treatment.” He added, “In conclusion, the ﬁndings of the present study reveal the relationships between different leader behaviors and factors that inﬂuence a service member’s decision to seek mental health treatment.”
Britt, T. W., Wright, K. M., & Moore, D. (2011, December 5). Leadership as a Predictor of Stigma and Practical Barriers Toward Receiving Mental Health Treatment: A Multilevel Approach. Psychological Services. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0026412
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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