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Jed Boal reportingA new study released today shows stigma still prevents many American troops from getting the mental health care they need. Their biggest concern is that asking for help will hurt their career.
When University of Utah student Lynette Averill sees images of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan she thinks of veterans who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. As many as one in six American troops will develop P.T.S.D. or another mental health problem. Many, fearing a stigma, do not seek help.
But Averill believes it's a sign of courage to get treatment. "These people are acknowledging the struggles they have and trying to better themselves," she said.
Averill was recently awarded a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to pursue her doctoral research at a renowned institute in Australia. Her father was a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War. He was in and out of VA hospitals for 15 years with mental health issues and committed suicide when Averill was 3 years old.
"I was really interested in the impact that war has, the psychological toll of war, on the veterans as well as on the families," Averill said.
A study out today shows six in 10 troops think that seeking help for mental health issues would have a negative impact on their career. Half think that others will think less of them, and a quarter say they know nothing at all about effective mental health treatments.
Averill thinks public attention and VA outreach can break down those stigmas. "The acknowledgment and education around it, that it is a real problem. But there's a lot of avenues for help and treatment," she said
She hopes her research and that of others can give today's veterans the counseling help they need; help that her father never got.
For more information on P.T.S.D. and local resources for counseling, click the related links.