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Williston SK, Bramande EA, Vogt DS, Iverson KM, Fox AB. An Examination of the Roles of Mental Health Literacy, Treatment-Seeking Stigma, and Perceived Need for Care in Female Veterans' Service Use. Psychiatric services (Washington, D.C.). 2020 Feb 1; 71(2):144-150.
OBJECTIVE: Little is known about the role of mental health literacy in military veterans' treatment-seeking stigma and service use, or the impact of these factors on perceived need for mental health care. In addition, most research has focused on mixed-gender samples. This study examined the relationships among mental health literacy, treatment seeking stigma, perceived need for mental health care, and service use in a national, longitudinal study of female veterans. METHODS: A sample of 171 female veterans were drawn from a larger three-wave prospective national survey conducted between 2014 and 2017. RESULTS: Path analyses revealed that treatment seeking stigma had a direct negative effect on service use and an indirect effect that was mediated by perceived need for care, such that higher treatment seeking stigma was associated with lower perceived need for mental health care. Mental health literacy had an indirect effect on service use via its inverse association with treatment-seeking stigma. In contrast, mental health literacy was not associated with perceived need. CONCLUSIONS: Mental health literacy, treatment-seeking stigma, and perceived need for care affect female veterans' service use in unique ways. Further longitudinal research is needed to better understand these pathways in diverse samples.