Veterans of Color Reluctant to Reach Out for Mental Health Support


A worrying report has emerged highlighting that US military veterans of ethnic minorities are less willing to reach out and seek mental health support in order to tackle issues such as sleep deprivation, PTSD, and alcohol abuse.

The study, put together by the MU School of Medicine, found that the main reason for this is down to past discrimination, and it is having a huge impact on the health of those unwilling to reach out.

Answering screening questions for 15 medical conditions, the study found that the majority of participants would seek treatment for both physical and mental health problems, however, there was a much greater willingness to seek treatment for physical conditions compared to mental health ones.

Mary Beth Miller, PhD and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the school also claimed that sleep deprivation and alcohol problems had almost been normalized and patients saw them as just a part of life rather than a serious health condition.

She said, “We speculate that because sleep and alcohol problems are common, they may be normalized or minimized to the extent that they are no longer viewed as problems – or at least problems that warrant treatment.”

That is deeply concerning, and perhaps more so when it comes to the fact that people of color are much less likely to seek out treatment in general.

Miller added, “Among veterans of color, discriminatory experiences were associated with less willingness to seek treatment, but only among those who denied use of other strategies for coping with stress.

“Empowering patients to utilize whatever healthy coping methods they have available may mitigate the negative impact of discriminatory experiences on treatment-seeking.”

With addiction problems rising among veterans, it’s paramount that they reach out and get the treatment they need in order to lead a healthy life after service.

Garrett Kitchens, Director of Community Relations at The River Source, one of a number of Arizona treatment centers said, “We are seeing more veterans check into our rehab centers after turning to alcohol or drugs to deal with the stresses of service.

“More needs to be done while our soldiers are active in order for those protecting our country to manage and cope with the stresses of their role, while we’d also appeal to anyone who is suffering to speak out and seek treatment.”


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