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Similarities between military and medical service: stigma of seeking mental health assistance
  1. Fergus Gardiner1 and
  2. E C Gardiner2
  1. 1 Research and Policy Unit, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2 Emergency Department, Calvary Public Hospital, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fergus Gardiner, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Canberra ACT 2600, Australia; fergus.gardiner{at}


Studies have identified that there are many barriers to treatment of mental health illnesses in military populations, including the negative-associated stigma. One such barrier includes perceptions of weakness, leading to concerns about leadership and competency and being seen as malingering. Furthermore, similarities can be seen in civilian health professionals, where concerns of negative perceptions can limit reporting and treatment of mental health illnesses. Despite the frequency of stressful events, military and health professionals do not become immune to stress and are often ill prepared to cope with acute stressors that can often build on each other until emotional exhaustion and/or crisis point. Even with targeted internal programmes, the stigma of seeking mental health assistance in the military and medicine is poor and is believed to contribute to poor outcomes, such as the potential of increased suicide prevalence.

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  • Contributors Both authors were involved in the conception and writing of the final manuscript.

  • Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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