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Stigma decreasing for Soldiers seeking mental health help

Openly discussing the damage stigma does to Soldiers in need of mental health services is a step toward eradicating the problem, an Army suicide-prevention leader said Oct. 12.

Stigma and fear of career repercussions are top reasons Soldiers are reluctant to seek mental health assistance, said Col Chris Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council and Task Force.

“The issue of stigma in the Army is real,” COL Philbrick said, and the “tough guy” mentality has not disappeared.

He said leaders now recognize that some Soldiers need to get help in order to successfully return to their units and that the resilience and anti-suicide educational products being refined each year are making a difference.

With the Army’s suicide rate reaching about 21 Soldiers per 100,000, the ratio is slightly higher than the national average. However, the colonel said he believes the concentration on suicide prevention and open discourse among senior Army leaders on the topic will move to decrease both suicide rates and stigma.

Mullen: Nation must recognize sacrifices and struggles of troops, families

WASHINGTON — Americans must recognize the sacrifices and struggles of today’s troops and their families and work harder to reintegrate them into their communities, the nation’s top military officer said Saturday.

The past nine years of war and multiple combat deployments have stressed the force, leaving in their wake veterans and families who return home only to have to start putting their lives back together, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a USO Gala in Chicago.

“These years of battle have steeled them for an uncertain future, because when our men and women come home, the battle doesn’t end,” Mullen said.

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