U.S. Soldiers' Experiences of Stigma and Their Attitudes Regarding Mental Health Treatment

Date of Conferral







Yoly Zentella


Prior researchers have identified stigma as a significant barrier to mental health treatment for military service members as many members in need of mental health treatment fail to seek it. Researchers have evaluated the relationship between certain forms of stigma (specifically, self-stigma, which encompasses an individual's belief that having a mental health disorder may reflect diminished character, and public stigma, which encompasses an individual's perception that others stereotype people with mental health issues) and service members' attitudes toward mental health treatment. However, a gap exists in research on the relationship between experienced stigma (i.e., the subjective experience of discrimination) and individuals' attitudes toward mental health treatment. The purpose of this nonexperimental, quantitative study was to extend prior research completed by assessing the relationship among experienced stigma, public stigma, self-stigma, and soldiers' attitudes toward seeking mental health care. Ajzen's theory of planned behavior constituted the theoretical framework. A sample of military service members and veterans (N = 78) obtained from social media completed a questionnaire containing items from 3 existing scales. Multiple regression and mediation analysis revealed that public stigma and self-stigma were associated with less favorable attitudes toward mental health treatment. Self-stigma partially mediated the relationship between public stigma and attitudes toward treatment. Experienced stigma was not a significant predictor of participants' attitudes toward treatment. Study findings may help clinicians to develop more effective mental health programming for military service members and veterans, resulting in potential positive social change.

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