This paper seeks to identify the nature of the stigma attached to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other mental health conditions in the Australian Army, and the negative implications of such a stigma on the individual, the workplace and the Army as a whole.
While recovery from PTSD can be expected in the majority of cases, early identification, diagnosis, and timely treatment have been found to reduce the length of treatment and the disruption to the individual’s social and occupational functioning. One significant determinant of whether people receive early diagnosis and treatment is fear of stigma and the negative judgements of those around them.
The Mental Health of the Australian Defence Force – 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study Report found that stigma surrounding mental health issues is a considerable and consistent barrier to care in the ADF. It also highlighted that the Australian Army exhibits considerably higher levels of stigma and barriers to care compared to the other services.
De-stigmatising is not only important for the individual, but also critical for the Australian Army. This paper analyses Canadian, British and US initiatives and provides key recommendations to the Australian Army on how to combat stigma.