Accession Number:



Towards a Broader Conceptualization of Need, Stigma, and Barriers to Mental Health Care in Military Organizations: Recent Research Findings from the Canadian Forces

Descriptive Note:

Corporate Author:


Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



While mental health treatments are more effective than ever, data from both military and civilian settings have consistently shown that only a minority of those with mental disorders actually receives care. Untreated mental disorders have important implications with respect to readiness, operational effectiveness, and force sustainability. Many of the efforts to overcome barriers to care have focused on a single attitudinal barrier stigma and only on the population with a diagnosable mental disorder. This presentation will review data from the Canadian Forces and elsewhere that argue for a broader conceptualization of need and barriers to care. For example, substantial numbers of personnel with occupational impairments are found in those without an apparent mental disorder. Such individuals presumably have sub-threshold conditions that are still having an impact on the organization. Among those with a disorder, the most prevalent barrier is not perceived stigma but instead that they appear to not realize that they have a disorder for which help is available these individuals acknowledge symptoms but don t recognize unmet need. And among those who do identify unmet need, the leading barrier is not stigma per se but instead the preference to manage their condition on their own. Finally, significant numbers of personnel drop out of care before they achieve remission, but this group has been little studied. This broader conceptualization of need and barriers to care implies the need for a broader and more flexible range of countermeasures. Key knowledge gaps need to be closed before effective countermeasures can be developed.

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Medicine and Medical Research
  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement: