Acceptability of Mental Health Stigma-Reduction Training and Initial Effects on Awareness Among Military Personnel
NAVAL HEALTH RESEARCH CENTER SAN DIEGO CA SAN DIEGO United States
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The purpose of this paper is to report on the development of a mental health stigma reduction toolkit and training, and the acceptability and level of stigma awareness following the stigma-reduction training for military personnel. The overall aims of the training were to provide discussion tools highlighting the experiences of Marines seeking help for stress concerns, improve communication between leaders and their Marines around the issue of help seeking, and familiarize Marines with behavioral health treatment. Senior enlisted leaders and officers N 52 from a Marine Corps battalion participated in a pretest, 2-h stigma-reduction training and immediate posttest. Acceptability of the training was measured by querying participants about the usefulness and helpfulness of the training among other factors, and stigma awareness was measured with 10 items about mental health stigma. The stigma-reduction training and materials were well accepted by participants. In addition, there was a significant improvement in four of ten stigma-reduction awareness concepts measured before and immediately after the training, which included an increase in agreement that mental health treatments are usually effective in reducing stress reactions t51 -3.35, p 0.002, and an increase in disagreement that seeking counseling after a deployment will jeopardize future deployments t51 -3.05, p 0.004. Level of agreement with several statements including those regarding perceptions of invincibility, and malingering, among others, did not change significantly after the training. The stigma-reduction training containing educational and contact strategies was highly acceptable to the leaders and may have promise for initially dispelling myths associated with seeking help for stress concerns among military service members however, results indicate that there is clearly more work to be done in combatting stigma.