Barriers to Care

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There are a number of things that prevent members of the Canadian Armed Forces from seeking mental health care when they could benefit from the available services. The Health and Lifestyle Inventory Survey (HLIS) 2008 has a number of barriers to care as indicated by CAF members.

Prefer to manage it themselves

From the green to orange part of the Mental Health Continuum Model (MHCM) managing ones own challenges can be part of healthy coping. This can include engaging in stress relieving activities and tapping into the available support network. Once a person starts entering the orange phase of the MHCM there may be a requirement for more focused and professional assistance. Mental health professionals can provide support and additional strategies to manage sources of distress.

Fear of long term consequences on career

For members who are showing signs that are more in the range of orange and red of the MHCM, there is a greater risk of the negative coping and behaviours to adversely affect a career then temporary Medical Employment Limitations.

Fear of stigma

There have been efforts in the Canadian Armed Forces to overcome stigma relating to mental health. Change is a process and eradicating the stigma around mental health issues is something very CAF member can participate in. This is your opportunity to be the difference.

Leadership is now being taught that they have a duty to directly support their subordinates that are seeking mental health care to include:

  1. Involving mental health resources and advising superiors,
  2. Fostering a climate/environment that promotes recovery,
  3. Respecting medical limitations and appropriately employing CAF personnel, and
  4. Managing unacceptable behaviours. (this can include inappropriate workplace behaviour that contributes to stigma surrounding mental health or combating rumours)

Belief treatment wouldn’t help

The Canadian Armed Forces employs more than 200 mental health professionals. There are a variety of treatments that are very effective in returning members to duty and treating mental health conditions. Your health care professional is well-trained and experienced in providing effective treatment.

For further assistance look through the resource section to see if one of these supportive resources is right for you.

Too busy/Didn’t bother

Prioritizing your health, including your mental health is part of the duty of a CAF member to maintain health and fitness. You need to put your health first in order to maintain your operational readiness, your career and family.

Fear care not confidential

Your personal medical information is not shared with the Chain of Command. The only information communicated to your chain of command is your Medical Employment Limitations through your General Duty Medical Officer. This is to enable your leadership to appropriately employ you in a way that promotes restoration of health and prevents further injury or illness. You can facilitate communication between the leadership and your treating clinician by providing written consent so that they may work together to support your recovery but this is your choice and without your consent medical staff can not communicate any details of your condition.

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