PHOENIX, Nov. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- University of Phoenix today announced survey findings regarding active-duty service members' perceptions about mental health. The survey found that 89 percent of active-duty service members believe mental health is equally as important as physical health. However, many are still unlikely to seek help for symptoms of mental distress. While 81 percent of active-duty members have experienced mental health symptoms, only 53 percent have sought professional counseling for those symptoms.
In the online survey, active-duty service members most commonly report experiencing lack of sleep (42 percent) in their role. Other common symptoms experienced are anxiety (33 percent), anger and agitation (24 percent), lack of concentration (24 percent) and sadness and depression (21 percent). However, for many of those experiencing symptoms, stigma and fear of repercussions may be preventing them from speaking up about their symptoms. More than half of active-duty service members (60 percent) felt there would be on-the-job repercussions for seeking professional counseling.
"There has been progress in the military regarding attitudes on mental health, but many still serve in a culture where it is perceived as weak to talk about your feelings," said Samantha Dutton, Ph.D., LCSW, associate dean for University of Phoenix social work program. "Military service members often fear repercussions for seeking counseling, such as receiving different treatment from their supervisor or being passed over for an assignment. That culture needs to change if we want our military to feel they have a safe space to discuss mental health without judgment or repercussions."
Retired Lt. Col. Dr. Dutton served in the Air Force for 27 years. During her service, Dr. Dutton directed, led and evaluated a full spectrum of mental health operations for service members and their families.
One way to change the culture and help service members be more open to getting counseling is to have those around them openly discuss mental health. If a leader in their organization spoke about their own experience, 76 percent of active-duty service members said they would be encouraged to seek professional counseling. Peers have a similar influence, with 75 percent of active-duty military members saying if a close colleague, friend or family member spoke up, they would be encouraged to seek help for themselves.
It is also important that when we discuss mental wellness, we recognize the signs of mental distress. While lack of sleep and anxiety can almost seem normal in our daily lives, when not addressed, they can lead to challenges at work, our personal lives, and even affect our overall physical health.
University of Phoenix has an alliance with Give an Hour, which is one organization leading the charge in changing the culture of mental health and offering resources to educate. Give an Hour provides free, confidential mental health care and support to military and veteran students, alumni and their loved ones. In addition to connecting veterans and their loved ones with mental health resources, the organization has launched a campaign that helps everyone recognize the five signs of emotional suffering in ourselves and those we care about as well as healthy habits to maintain emotional well-being.
"To help remove barriers so that our military members receive the care they deserve, we must be able to recognize when someone needs help," said Tessa Glenn, senior director of military and veteran programs at Give an Hour. "Sometimes a person who is suffering may not have the will or drive to help themselves. You may need to reach out to them to share your concerns. An effective way to start the conversation is to share your own experiences with mental wellness. If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering for not only military members, but for all of us."
Survey Methodology This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix from August 16-29, 2019 among 1,294 U.S. adults aged 18 and older, of whom 1,036 are U.S. military (105 active-duty and 931 non-active duty) and 258 are first responders (police, firefighters, nurses, paramedics/EMTs). Figures were weighted where necessary by age, sex, race/ethnicity, region, income, education, household size and marital status to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust respondents' propensity to be online. For complete survey methodology, please contact Melany Stroupe.
About University of Phoenix® University of Phoenix is innovating to help working adults move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering associate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs from campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online throughout the world. For more information, visit phoenix.edu.
About Give an Hour Give an Hour, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) providing free mental health services to military members, veterans and their families, was founded in September 2005. Give an Hour has been instrumental in the development of the community-based approach to addressing the challenges that face our nation's military community, having created a successful model for harnessing skill-based volunteers eager to offer their services. Thus far, the network of nearly 7,000 licensed mental health professionals has provided more than 300,000 hours valued at about $30 million donated to those in need. To learn more, visit www.giveanhour.org. For information on the Campaign to Change Direction visit: www.changedirection.org.