Mental Health Stigma In The United States

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POSITION PAPER ON MENTAL HEALTH STIGMA 1. The Air Force should do more to eradicate the stigma associated with airmen who seek help and receive mental health care. Mental health treatment has carried a significant stigma in the general public and among military members. The Department of Defense and the Air Force have taken significant steps to improve access to mental healthcare and remove the stigma associated with mental health treatment. Current Air Force mental health screening options are ineffective and inefficient. The Air Force has attempted to reduce mental health stigmas through the implementation of evidence-based mental health treatment approaches. However, sequestration and budget constraints have limited the resources…show more content…
Mental health stigma in the military is defined as, “a dynamic process by which a service member perceives or internalizes this brand or marked identity about himself or herself or people with mental health disorders.”1 The perceived mental health stigma in the military stems from proximal and distal impacts.1 The proximal impacts include interpersonal outcomes, coping mechanisms, attitudes toward treatment and the distal impacts include the personal well-being, readiness, quality of life, treatment-seeking, and treatment success.1 The United States Air Force has been promoting treatment-seeking through various programs to reduce stigma and facilitate a widespread culture shift that views mental health in the context of readiness and resilience.1 The Air Force has attempted to redefine mental health help-seeking as a sign of strength instead of a sign of weakness.1 Additionally, the Air Force has quadrupled the availability of mental health programs over the past six years.2 The Air Force has provided over seven mental healthcare treatment options to Air Force members.3 These options include: the airman and family readiness center, military family life consultants, installation chaplain, mental health clinic, behavioral health, family advocacy program, and master resilience…show more content…
Many airmen receive annual physicals known as health screening assessments, but these are not considered specialized mental health screenings. Instead, health screening assessments are reviewed by a primary care provider or flight doctor who are not specialized or properly trained in mental healthcare. Most service members receive mental health screenings after they return from overseas deployments.4 The majority of airmen avoid regular mental health screening.5 Data from the Air Force Community Assessment Survey suggests that one in 10 active duty members reported untreated mental health problems.7 Reluctance to seek mental health treatment stems from concerns about the potential impact seeking mental health treatment has on one’s military career.7 Post traumatic stress disorder effects less than one percent of the active duty population.7 Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, James Cody the following quote about how the Air Force handles mental healthcare and suicide. "We just don't have a good track record with it," Cody said. "What we have is a track record of pushing people beyond what's reasonable and sustainable. We're going to lose our best people if we don't get this

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