What’s Behind Mental Health Stigma in the Army?

For a job that is so labor intensive, stress-provoking, and risky, you’d think that those in the Army would have the most understanding people by their side when it comes to their mental health.

That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth.

As if we don’t already have enough stigma surrounding mental health, there is a whole different mental health stigma for those who are, or were, a part of the Army.

So, why is there such a stigma?


Perception of Weakness

When someone tells you that they’re in the Army, your first thought might be, “Wow, you’re so brave!”

While it’s true that those in the Army are brave, they may not always feel brave. Not to mention, they’re still human, making it a possibility that they can still very much experience mental health issues like the rest of us.

Due to the bravery we associate with those in the Army, military folk may refuse to openly talk about their mental health to maintain a facade and live up to society’s expectations.

They may be afraid to appear weak and un-brave, which is typically the opposite of what we associate with someone in the military.


Fear of Social Rejection

Anyone in the Army knows that their job is part of a team effort. You often find yourself communicating with and helping those who you may not particularly like because, well, your job depends on it.

Whether it be a fear of breaking up the strong bond they have with their coworkers or a fear of getting in trouble with a higher-up, someone in the Army may stigmatize their own mental health to prevent said issues from arising.


Desire for Professionalism

For most of us outside of the military, we remain professional at work, clock out at the end of the day, and then resume our normal lives. For those in the Army, the job continues as long as their contract does.

So, even when they’re not “on the clock,” they technically still are.

That said, not only is someone in the Army going to want to remain professional around their coworkers during work hours, but they will generally feel that way throughout their entire contract.

After all, they live with their coworkers and are always on call; the need for professionalism is always there. In turn, they may put their mental health on the backburner.


Limited Mental Health Resources

While there are mental health resources out there, even veteran mental health treatment, they still aren’t as obtainable as they should be. Firstly, those in the Army may be afraid to ask for professional help.

Not to mention, quality mental health resources tend to be lacking.

High costs, few openings, and difficulty finding suitable options are all common troubles.


In Conclusion

Mental health stigma is a very real thing. It’s also a big problem for those in the Army or even for veterans.

The good news is, not only is there highly-quality mental health treatment out there, but there is treatment available for those specifically in the military.