If you’re wondering how prevalent mental illness is in the U.S., here are the official numbers. 1 in 5 adults in America have or will experience a mental illness, and 1 in 25 adults live with a serious mental illness. However, healthcare costs, a lack of access to care and the perceived social stigma means many adults don’t receive treatment. These untreated mental health issues can lead to additional problems such as addiction, homelessness, or incarceration.
Self-Stigma Among Veterans
While the social stigma around mental illness is lifting, some stereotypes still depict people with a mental illness as dangerous or volatile. These stereotypes can become internalized among people with a mental illness, who begin to feel that seeking treatment isn’t worth their effort.
This is especially true for those suffering from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). A 2013 study found that most veterans who suffer from PTSD avoided treatment from fear of being labelled as mentally ill, unstable or erratic.
Some veterans, interviewed during the PBS special War on the Brain, said that PTSD wasn’t something they could relate to. Those with higher ranks stated they were concerned about looking weak and undependable as leaders in the military. These veterans felt they had to minimize their condition and deal with it silently as part of their service. The result of these concerns? Only 8% of all veterans use Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) services to seek treatment for PTSD – even though an estimated 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and 30 percent of Vietnam veterans are thought to have the disorder.
Reducing the Stigma through Telemedicine
While the VA and other entities work to reduce the PTSD stigma, one solution is encouraging veterans to seek treatment: telemedicine. Because veterans can access care from their own homes, they aren’t concerned about the stigma of visiting an in-person clinic. Video-conferencing software allows them to fully engage in treatment plans without the worry of being negatively labeled by others.
Is telepsychiatry as effective as in-person therapy? According to the American Psychiatric Association, yes. In fact, some patients may feel more comfortable talking with a provider on screen, allowing for more engaged treatment sessions. A 2015 study found that telemedicine care successfully engaged veterans with PTSD in the treatment process and showed improved mental health outcomes.
GlobalMed’s software and hardware platforms can treat 55 modalities of care including telepsychiatry, mental health, and social work. Our platforms lets veterans video conference with their provider and schedule appointments at their discretion. They can conduct medical consults and treatment sessions from the comfort of their homes through our software platform give veterans the opportunity to get treatment for their PTSD from, and avoid the stigma they may feel from going to a provider in person. Through telemedicine veterans can get the care they deserve.