Factors associated with interest in receiving help for mental health problems in combat veterans returning from deployment to Iraq

J Nerv Ment Dis. 2011 Oct;199(10):797-801. doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31822fc9bf.


Mental health problems in service members often go untreated. This study focused on factors related to interest in receiving help in a survey sample of 577 combat veterans who were screened positive for posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, or generalized anxiety disorder 3 months after returning from Iraq. Over three quarters of respondents recognized that they had a current problem, but only 40% were interested in receiving help. Interest in receiving help was associated with recognizing a problem and receiving mental health services in the past year. More negative attitudes toward mental health care were associated with lower interest in receiving help; paradoxically, more negative perceptions of unit stigma were associated with increased interest in receiving help. Further studies are needed to better define the relationship between stigma perceptions, interest in receiving care, and actual care utilization and to determine whether attitudes toward mental health care can be modified through changes in how care is delivered. Attitudes toward mental health care should be considered in treatment interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Combat Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services
  • Middle Aged
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Social Stigma*
  • Veterans / psychology*