On this Veterans Day, a new study was published that shows that most veterans returning from active duty wouldn’t seek mental health treatment, even if they were experiencing significant problems.
According to the study from the University of the Rockies, more than half (54.4 percent) of U.S. Army Special Forces Operators exposed to combat would not seek treatment while serving in the Army, even if they were experiencing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms or psychological distress.
The 18-month study, which included 68 U.S. Army Special Forces Operators who had been deployed to combat since Operation Iraqi Freedom began in 2003, was conducted by Jessica M. Espinoza, PsyD., who earned her doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology from the university. University of the Rockies is a graduate university specializing in master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology.
Even though 100 percent of respondents were aware that therapy was available to them through the U.S. Army, most said they would not seek treatment due to fear of negative consequences.
Of those negative consequences, the stigma attached to soldiers with PTSD was the biggest deterrent to seeking treatment, followed by the fear of being thought of as weak, the fear of being removed from an A-team, the fear of being removed from Special Forces, the fear of being ostracized, the fear of being thought of as a coward, the fear of being discharged from the U.S. Army, the fear of personal distress and the loss of security clearances and job opportunities.
PTSD is a debilitating disorder that follows from experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic, tragic, or terrifying event. People with PTSD usually have persistent frightening thoughts and memories of their ordeal and feel emotionally numb, especially with people they were once close to.
PTSD, once referred to as “shell shock” or battle fatigue, was first brought to public attention by war veterans. But it can result from any number of traumatic incidents and many people who are not soldiers are diagnosed with this disorder every year.
The study supports that, of those with PTSD symptoms, only about half will seek treatment due to the stigma attached to PTSD in the military.
Source: University of the Rockies