We investigated perceptions of stigma and barriers associated with accessing mental health services among active component U.S. Air Force officer and enlisted nursing personnel (N = 211). The Britt and Hoge et al Stigma scale and Hoge et al Barriers to Care scale were administered via an anonymous, online survey. Stigma items pertained to concerns that might affect decisions to seek mental health treatment. Most of the sample agreed with the items “Members of my unit might have less confidence in me” and “My unit leadership might treat me differently.” Approximately 20% to 46% agreed with the other four stigma items. Officer nursing personnel were significantly more likely than enlisted to agree that accessing mental health services would be embarrassing, harm their career, or cause leaders to blame them for the problem (p ≤ 0.03 for each comparison). Getting time off from work for treatment and scheduling appointments were perceived as barriers by 41% and 21% of respondents, respectively. We conclude that proportions of Air Force nursing personnel reporting concerns about potential stigmatizing consequences of seeking mental health care are substantial and similar to ranges previously reported by military service members screening positive for mental health problems after deployment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health