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Veteran help-seeking behaviour for mental health issues: a systematic review
  1. Rebecca Randles and
  2. A Finnegan
  1. Westminster Centre for Research in Veterans, University of Chester Faculty of Health and Social Care, Chester, UK
  1. Correspondence to A Finnegan, University of Chester, Chester, UK; a.finnegan{at}chester.ac.uk

Abstract

Introduction Serving military personnel and veterans have been identified to have a high prevalence of mental health disorders. Despite this, only a significantly small number seek mental healthcare. With the UK beginning to invest further support to the armed forces community, identification of barriers and facilitators of help-seeking behaviour is needed.

Methods Corresponding literature search was conducted in PsycINFO, PsycArticles, Medline, Web of Science and EBSCO. Articles which discussed barriers and facilitators of seeking help for mental health concerns in the veteran population were included. Those which discussed serving personnel or physical problems were not included within this review. A total of 26 papers were analysed.

Results A number of barriers and facilitators of help-seeking for a mental health issue within the veteran population were identified. Barriers included stigma, military culture of stoicism and self-reliance, as well as deployment characteristics of combat exposure and different warzone deployments. Health service difficulties such as access and lack of understanding by civilian staff were also identified. Facilitators to help combat these barriers included a campaign to dispel the stigma, including involvement of veterans and training of military personnel, as well as more accessibility and understanding from healthcare staff.

Conclusions While some barriers and facilitators have been identified, much of this research has been conducted within the USA and on male veterans and lacks longitudinal evidence. Further research is needed within the context of other nations and female veterans and to further indicate the facilitators of help-seeking among veterans.

  • mental health
  • adult psychiatry
  • public health

Data availability statement

No data was utilised in this systematic review, therefore no data is available. Articles are freely available in the databases listed within the systematic review. All articles used for collection are within the reference list and available for distribution.

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Data availability statement

No data was utilised in this systematic review, therefore no data is available. Articles are freely available in the databases listed within the systematic review. All articles used for collection are within the reference list and available for distribution.

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Footnotes

  • Twitter @becky_randles

  • Contributors RR: primary author, led on the systematic review, interpretation of results and author of the first draft. AF: review and critique of drafts, approval of final submission.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Disclaimer The views are solely those of the authors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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