Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Psy.D. Doctor of Clinical Psychology

Academic Discipline

Clinical Psychology - Florida School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Gary Howell, PsyD

Second Advisor

Sierra Iwanicki, PhD


Military service members are more likely to endure a significant amount of stress and experience multiple traumatic events than civilians due to the nature of their job. Many studies have focused on the traumatic stressors encountered during combat despite the fact that many service members encounter stressors related to serving in the military. A study conducted by Dursa, Reinhard, Barth, and Schniderman (2014) found that 10.9% of nondeployed veterans screened positive for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with the highest prevalence of PTSD (13.8%) amongst nondeployed soldiers. Military mental health stigma is rampant due to the need to be ready for battle, although a minority of service members seek mental health treatment. Service members’ resistance to seeking treatment may be due to perceived stigma from their peers and anticipated stigma from their leaders (Hoge et al., 2004; Vogt, Fox, & DiLeone, 2014). Perception of stigma is a common barrier to care reported by Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) veterans and can be more pronounced due to a more recent service in the military. Tsai, Whealin, and Pietrzak (2014) discussed that personal support from military leaders may help normalize treatment seeking. The military focuses on leadership development because leaders have the ability to influence and motivate their subordinates (Thomas et al., 2010). It is important to understand the impact that leadership behaviors have on subordinates because the military exposes their personnel to numerous stressors, including physical hardship, psychological distress, and physical danger. Considering the number of stressors and traumas associated with the military, it is likely that leaders may indirectly or directly influence their subordinates’ perception of mental health stigma and treatment seeking. Due to these factors, it is hypothesized that leadership behaviors affect mental health stigma and treatment-seeking behaviors.