An Assessment of Beliefs About Mental Health Care Among Veterans Who Served in Iraq

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ObjectiveThis study assessed beliefs about mental health treatment in a group of soldiers newly returning from the war in Iraq.MethodsParticipants were 20 National Guard soldiers who had served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Soldiers who in phone interviews screened positive for a mental disorder were asked about advantages and disadvantages of seeking treatment, who would or would not support treatment seeking, and facilitators and barriers to treatment seeking.ResultsStigma was portrayed as a major disadvantage to treatment seeking. Yet most participants indicated that people would be supportive of treatment seeking. Reducing symptoms was a major advantage of care. Barriers, especially those viewed as “self-induced,” such as pride, not being able to ask for help, and not being able to admit to having a problem, were considered major impediments.ConclusionsThe findings suggest that interventions developed to engage veterans in care must be directed toward cognitive factors that motivate treatment seeking.

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