Increasing utilization of Canadian military mental health services in the context of warrior culture and clinician impartiality
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SubjectCanadian Armed Forces Mental Health; Clinician Culture & Stigma; Facilitators to Accessing Mental Health Care; Warrior Culture & Mental Health Stigma
In Canada, Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members are 32% more likely than civilians to have suicidal thoughts and 64% more likely to plan their suicide (Sareen et. al, 2016). Depression is the most common mental health diagnosis for CAF members (Pearson, Zamorski, & Janz, 2015) and regular force members report higher prevalence of depression and anxiety over the general Canadian population (Pearson, Zamorski, & Janz, 2015). In spite of these findings, an estimated one-third of CAF members in 2002 did not access treatment-related services despite acknowledging the need for help (Fikretoglu, et. al., 2008; Sharp, et al., 2015; Vogt, 2011). Members do access primary care providers first when suffering with symptoms of depression and stigma towards those with a mental illness still exists among health-care providers (Fikretoglu, et. al., 2008; Green, 2007; Langston, 2007; Lunasco, et. al., 2010; Myerholtz, 2018; Sharp, et.al. 2015; Vogt, 2011; Warner, 2008). The purpose of this Participatory Action Research (PAR) dissertation was an exploration of military members’ experiences with accessing mental health care, as encountered by service members and clinicians, with a specific focus on the facilitators to this care. Participants reported a change in culture, Chain of Command support for accessing services, and the promotion of mental health services CAF wide (during the Basic Military Qualification, in leadership courses and during town hall meetings) as some of the facilitators to accessing mental health care. Results indicate that culture and identity play a significant role for both military members and clinicians in terms of enabling or impeding the use of mental health care services.
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