Treatment-Seeking Beliefs and Behaviors in Air Force Nursing Personnel. Academic Article uri icon


  • Perceptions of stigma and barriers associated with seeking mental health services have been described in past research with military service members who reported or screened positively for mental health concerns or who reported an intention to seek care. The reported influence of stronger perceptions of stigma on treatment seeking has varied.An anonymous, online survey was administered to Air Force nursing personnel (N = 250) at three locations to describe beliefs associated with seeking mental health treatment and to investigate the extent to which stigma and barriers, stress, and resilience were related to mental health treatment seeking.Over 40% reported having accessed mental health services in their lifetime. A majority who accessed mental health services did so during their service, but there was no significant relationship with a deployment. Approximately 44% reported experiencing a current stress or emotional problem, and 28% accessed mental health services within the past 6 months. Levels of stress were significantly higher among individuals who accessed mental health care in the previous 6 months. There were no significant differences in stigma, barriers to care, or resilience on the basis of having accessed mental health care. Military resources were preferred to address a mental health concern, and respondents preferred to seek care from a mental health professional rather than other providers.Additional resources may be needed to address military personnel's nondeployment-related mental health concerns. Improved screening for increased levels of stress may aid in identifying service members who could benefit from referral to a mental health professional.Reprint & Copyright © 2017 Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S.

publication date

  • December 2017