Veterans of color are reluctant to seek mental health support

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US military veterans of color don’t want to seek mental health support because of past discrimination

Although US military veterans disproportionately suffer from medical and mental health issues, including problems with sleep and alcohol use, they are the group least likely to seek mental health support.

The study results also indicate a link between the willingness to seek help among veterans of color and the incidence of discrimination.

Researchers studied 334 veterans from 46 states, 66% of whom were male and more than 70% identified as a person of color.

Mental health of veterans suffers

Veterans answered screening questions for 15 medical conditions, including:

Participants also rated the importance of treatment for each health condition and their willingness to seek treatment.

“The majority of participants indicated that they would be willing to seek treatment for physical and mental health issues.

“However, they reported a significantly greater willingness to seek treatment for physical than mental health issues,” said lead researcher Mary Beth Miller, PhD, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at MU School of Medicine.

Veterans said they would be more willing to seek treatment for chronic pain, chronic medical conditions and physical brain injuries, but were less willing to seek help for alcohol, drug use. drugs and sleep problems.

Sleep and alcohol problems normalized

“We assume that because sleep and alcohol problems are common, they can be normalized or minimized to the extent that they are no longer seen as problems — or at least problems that need treatment,” Miller said. .

The authors also wanted to examine the impact of discrimination on veterans’ decision-making. More frequent experiences of racial discrimination were associated with a lower willingness to seek treatment for physical or mental health problems, according to the study.

“Among veterans of color, discriminatory experiences were associated with lower willingness to seek treatment, but only among those who refused to use other coping strategies,” Miller added.

“Allowing patients to use all of the healthy coping methods available to them can lessen the negative impact of discriminatory experiences on treatment seeking.”

The study, “Impact of Discrimination and Coping on Veterans’ Willingness to Seek Treatment for Physical and Mental Health Problems,” was recently published in the journal Psychology of addictive behaviors.

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