How do you convince someone that it is okay to ask for help? That question is at the heart of a paper just published in BMC Public Health by Dr. Sarah Bauerle Bass, associate professor of social and behavioral sciences, and a team of other researchers. Dr. Bass and her colleagues examined perceptions of help-seeking among male military cadets. They found that these cadets were often unlikely to ask for help in addressing personal circumstances like depression, substance abuse, and stressful life events.
“Historically, men have lower rates of help-seeking and going to the doctor than women,” says Dr. Bass. “This is especially true in men who identify themselves as very masculine and traditional in their gender roles”— an identity that can be amplified in military culture.
Dr. Bass and her team found that cadets frequently held negative perceptions about seeking help — for example, that doing so indicates weakness or lack of control. Identifying these perceptions allowed the researchers to recommend key messages that respond to those concerns and could make cadets more willing to seek help.
“The good news is that these cadets indicated that they trust doctors,” says Dr. Bass. “Messages could focus on that, and address their need to feel in control.” And all cadets are not alike, she adds, noting differences in perceptions of help-seeking by race and ethnicity. “Interventions may have to be crafted in a way that addresses the unique perceptions they have.”
To read more about the study, visit the Temple College of Public Health website.