• Journal Article

Trends in Mental Health Services Utilization and Stigma in US Soldiers From 2002 to 2011

Citation

Quartana, P. J., Wilk, J. E., Thomas, J., Bray, R., Rae Olmsted, K., Brown, J., ... Hoge, C. W. (2014). Trends in Mental Health Services Utilization and Stigma in US Soldiers From 2002 to 2011. American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), 1671-1679. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.301971

Abstract

Objectives. We characterized trends in mental health services utilization and stigma over the course of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars among active-component US soldiers. Methods. We evaluated trends in mental health services utilization and stigma using US Army data from the Health-Related Behavior (HRB) surveys from 2002, 2005, and 2008 (n = 12 835) and the Land Combat Study (LCS) surveys administered to soldiers annually from 2003 to 2009 and again in 2011 (n = 22 627). Results. HRB and LCS data suggested increased mental health services utilization and decreased stigma in US soldiers between 2002 and 2011. These trends were evident in soldiers with and without posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), major depressive disorder (MDD), or PTSD and MDD. Despite the improving trends, more than half of soldiers with mental health problems did not report seeking care. Conclusions. Mental health services utilization increased and stigma decreased over the course of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although promising, these findings indicate that a significant proportion of US soldiers meeting criteria for PTSD or MDD do not utilize mental health services, and stigma remains a pervasive problem requiring further attention. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 17, 2014: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301971)