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Mental health stigmatisation in deployed UK Armed Forces: a principal components analysis
  1. Mohammed Fertout1,
  2. N Jones1,
  3. M Keeling2 and
  4. N Greenberg1
  1. 1Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, London, UK
  2. 2Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families (CIR), School of Social Work, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Maj N Jones, Academic Department of Military Mental Health, Academic Department of Psychological Medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, Weston Education Centre, Cutcombe Road, London SE5 9RJ, UK; norman.jones{at}kcl.ac.uk

Abstract

Introduction UK military research suggests that there is a significant link between current psychological symptoms, mental health stigmatisation and perceived barriers to care (stigma/BTC). Few studies have explored the construct of stigma/BTC in depth amongst deployed UK military personnel.

Method Three survey datasets containing a stigma/BTC scale obtained during UK deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan were combined (n=3405 personnel). Principal component analysis was used to identify the key components of stigma/BTC. The relationship between psychological symptoms, the stigma/BTC components and help seeking were examined.

Results Two components were identified: ‘potential loss of personal military credibility and trust’ (stigma Component 1, five items, 49.4% total model variance) and ‘negative perceptions of mental health services and barriers to help seeking’ (Component 2, six items, 11.2% total model variance). Component 1 was endorsed by 37.8% and Component 2 by 9.4% of personnel. Component 1 was associated with both assessed and subjective mental health, medical appointments and admission to hospital. Stigma Component 2 was associated with subjective and assessed mental health but not with medical appointments. Neither component was associated with help-seeking for subjective psycho-social problems.

Conclusions Potential loss of credibility and trust appeared to be associated with help-seeking for medical reasons but not for help-seeking for subjective psychosocial problems. Those experiencing psychological symptoms appeared to minimise the effects of stigma by seeking out a socially acceptable route into care, such as the medical consultation, whereas those who experienced a subjective mental health problem appeared willing to seek help from any source.

  • Stigma
  • MENTAL HEALTH
  • Help Seeking
  • Principle Components
  • Accepted November 2, 2015.

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