U.S. Military Making Progress on Reducing Stigma Associated with Seeking Help For Mental Illness
Sep 30, 2014
This report assesses the U.S. military's approach to reducing stigma for mental health disorders and their treatment, how well it is working, and how it might be improved. It presents priorities for program and policy development and research and evaluation to get service members the treatment they need as efficiently and effectively as possible.
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Despite the efforts of both the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Veterans Health Administration to enhance mental health services, many service members are not regularly seeking needed care when they have mental health problems. Without appropriate treatment, these mental health problems can have wide-ranging and negative impacts on the quality of life and the social, emotional, and cognitive functioning of affected service members. The services have been actively engaged in developing policies, programs, and campaigns designed to reduce stigma and increase service members' help-seeking behavior. However, there has been no comprehensive assessment of these efforts' effectiveness and the extent to which they align with service members' needs or evidence-based practices. The goal of this research was to assess DoD's approach to stigma reduction — how well it is working and how it might be improved. To address these questions, RAND researchers used five complementary methods: (1) literature review, (2) a microsimulation modeling of costs, (3) interviews with program staff, (4) prospective policy analysis, and (5) an expert panel. The priorities outlined in this report represent a first step for where additional program and policy development and research and evaluation are needed to improve understanding of how best to get service members with mental health disorders the needed treatment as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Defining Stigma in the Military Context
Prevalence of Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Societal Costs of Mental Health Stigma in the Military
Promising Programmatic and Policy Approaches to Reducing Stigma
U.S. Department of Defense Programs to Reduce Mental Health Stigma
U.S. Department of Defense Policies Related to Stigma
Key Findings and Priorities for Improving the U.S. Department of Defense's Approach to Stigma Reduction
Methods for Literature Review
Definitions of Mental Health Stigma
Prevalence of Stigma in the General U.S. Population
Detailed Methods for the Modeling Approach
Program Descriptions and Analysis
Policies with Implications for Stigma
Policies That Contain Negative Terminology with Implications for Stigma
Methods Used to Conduct the Expert Panel to Refine and Vet Priorities for Mental Health Stigma Reduction in the U.S. Department of Defense
This research was sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs and the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.
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