Active-duty members of the U.S. military are much more open to the idea of mental health counseling than veterans, a new survey finds.
"There has been a fundamental shift in the military regarding attitudes on mental health, and we have seen real progress in reducing the stigmas associated with professional counseling," said survey author Samantha Dutton. She is program director in the College of Humanities and Sciences at the University of Phoenix.
"However, for veterans, that has not translated into a shift in the perception of mental health. Many of our veterans served in a culture where talking about your feelings or seeking help was not widely accepted," she added in a university news release.
The recently released survey results bear that out: More than 90 percent of all veterans and active-duty service members said mental health is as important as physical health. But only 30 percent of veterans have sought or considered mental health counseling, compared with 72 percent of active-duty service members.
This difference may be because veterans retain old stereotypes and stigmas associated with mental health counseling, the researchers noted.
The survey also found that 89 percent of active-duty military members believe people who receive professional counseling generally get somewhat or a lot better, compared with 66 percent of veterans.
In addition, 91 percent of active-duty service members say their leaders openly discuss the importance of dealing with mental health concerns, while only 23 percent of veterans say that their leaders did so.
When veterans were asked what resources they would use to manage mental health, free counseling was the most common response (39 percent).
Fifty-eight percent of veterans said they would be encouraged to seek mental health counseling if a close colleague, friend or family member discussed their experiences receiving counseling.