Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015


Military personnel encounter occupational hazards that make them vulnerable to developing mental health symptoms; however, many soldiers who experience a problem do not seek treatment. A major barrier to treatment is self-reliance, a preference to manage problems oneself rather than seek help from a professional. In the present study, we sought a more comprehensive understanding of factors that contribute to self-reliance. Active-duty soldiers (N = 485) were surveyed at two time points. The sample was 93% male, 67% Caucasian, and most were aged 20-24 (49%). The survey included: factors that affect treatment-seeking, deployment experiences, and mental health symptoms. Results indicated that stigmatizing beliefs about those who seek treatment and negative beliefs about treatment at Time 1 were related to higher preferences for self-reliance at Time 2, while positive beliefs about treatment at Time 1 were related to lower self-reliance. Combat exposure, mental health symptoms, social support for treatment-seeking, and stigma from others were not significant predictors. These results demonstrate that self-reliance may not be unique to combat soldiers and may not diminish as symptoms become severe. Instead one’s views of treatment and others who seek treatment may be more impactful, and should be the target of interventions to encourage treatment-seeking.