Beware of Predatory Lending Practice

By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®

July 15 is Military Consumer Protection Day so July is a good time to explore frauds that affect service members and their families. The Personal Finance team will present a webinar on Predatory Lending Practices & How to Avoid Them on Tuesday, July 28 at 11 a.m. ET.

Most lenders are reputable and community-minded and charge a fair price for the use of borrowed money. Unfortunately, there is also a relatively small subset of lenders, called predatory lenders, who take advantage of others. Predatory lenders do just what the name implies. They market to vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, minorities, and people with poor credit histories, and charge excessively high interest and up-front fees.

Photo by Jason Comely (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.)
Photo by Jason Comely (Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.)

There is no precise definition of predatory lending. Rather, it consists of a number of practices that exploit consumers and can result in the loss of homes and life savings. A common element of all predatory loans is exploiting a consumer’s ability to repay. Borrowers are often lent amounts far in excess of what their incomes can support. In the case of mortgages, lenders are assured of a profit- either through loan payments or foreclosure (seizing a borrower’s home). Interest rates and fees are also well above average market costs.

How can military families avoid predatory loans? By being cautious and skeptical. Consider the following tips:

  • Always check out a lender before signing any loan documents, particularly if they contacted you first and they are not located in the city or county where you live. Start with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). To get the name of the BBB closest to you, visit bbb.org. Local or state consumer protection (consumer affairs) agencies can also provide information about whether a lender has had complaints from consumers.
  • Be especially wary of calls and visits about “bargain” loans that are “available only for a very short time.” Read loan documents carefully before signing and always get a copy for your records.
  • Walk away from any lender that encourages you to borrow more than you need (and can afford), requires credit life insurance, provides a blank contract with spaces “to be filled in later,” charges excessively high costs (e.g., closing costs as much as $5,000 on a $25,000 loan) and doesn’t answer all your questions.
  • Never sign a loan contract you don’t understand and always check that terms that were told to you orally (e.g., interest rate and fees) are the same in the loan contract. Also be wary of lenders who swamp borrowers with a lot of papers to discourage reading everything closely.
  • Never sign loan documents because you feel pressured to do so. Also, be very suspicious of lenders that you did not contact first. Most reputable mortgage or credit lenders do not solicit business over the phone, via e-mail, or door-to-door.

Visit military.ncpw.gov for free resources, tip sheets, and blog posts from national consumer protection experts. Below is a 5-minute video that demonstrates a predatory loan application in progress with a slick lender.

To join the July 28 webinar, Predatory Lending Practices & How to Avoid Them visit: https://learn.extension.org/events/2113

This post was published on the Military Families Learning Network blog on July 7, 2015.

Treating Trauma or Simply Stress?

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, August 15th 2008-Crispy, August 15, 2008]
Creative Commons [Flickr, August 15th 2008-Crispy, August 15, 2008]
We have highlighted research concluding that secondary traumatic stress (STS) and vicarious trauma (VT) contribute to clinician burnout, but is burnout simply a factor of work-related stressors?   In a 2009 study using an Australian sample, researchers Devilly, Wright, and Varker did not find that exposure to a client’s traumatic experiences affected STS, VT, or burnout [1].

A total of 152 participants in the study were selected randomly and included 125 psychologists, 15 psychotherapists, 6 clinical social workers and other mental health clinicians.  Participants completed a victimization history, depression, anxiety and stress scales, a burnout inventory, a secondary traumatic stress scale, a vicarious trauma scale, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and a perceived social support scale.  Work-related stress included questions measuring 4 dimensions: (1) a supportive workplace; (2) workload demands; (3) conflicting demands; and, (3) clarity of expectations.

Using multiple regression analysis, the researchers found that work-related stressors best predicted therapist distress. Predictors for affective distress included:

  • Duration of time as a mental health professional,
  • Beliefs about their safety, and
  • Beliefs about their intimacy with others.

The researchers did not find any significant difference in vicarious trauma or secondary traumatic stress when they compared participants with a history of trauma with participants that did not have a history of trauma.  The researchers also noted that participants who reported a high level of exposure to trauma cases also reported a greater history of personal trauma.  Unexpectedly, groups that reported low levels of trauma cases reported significantly higher levels of work stress.

When experiencing work-related stress as a mental health clinician you can thoughtfully consider the stress that you are experiencing and ask:

  • Do you believe that you are safe in the workplace?
  • Are you developing and maintaining intimate (and supportive) relationships?

Whether you have a history personal trauma or not, and whether your work entails exposure to vicarious trauma or not, attending to these factors may reduce the possibility of burnout and increase the quality of your workplace experience.

Reference

[1] Devilly, G. J., Wright, R., & Varker, T. (2009). Vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress or simply burnout? Effect of trauma therapy on mental health professionals. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(4), 373-385. doi:10.1080/00048670902721079

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

Military Caregiving Virtual Learning Event…Coming Fall 2015

MFLNMC-VLE Ad

We are getting a jump start on the planning process for the MFLN Military Caregiving Virtual Learning Event (VLE), happening this fall. Mark your calendars for a three-part series for military service providers that will focus on an integrated approach to professional development. The VLE will highlight the core competencies to working with military family caregivers of wounded service members and caregivers of special needs individuals.

The three-part series includes topic areas in Building Trust and Credibility (October 28); Cultural Competencies (November 4); and Compassion Fatigue (November 18). Each event encompasses the overall theme of the professional development training – targeting the “core competencies” of our professional work with clientele.  Our goal is to re-energize the working environment and inspire personal and professional growth in order to better serve our service members and their families.

The VLE is so unique from our normal professional development webinars because participants can gain a more engaged training that is similar to a professional conference but in a virtual format. The events are also more compatible with the busy schedules of military helping professionals and provide training on a virtual level to alleviate the travel restrictions and budget cuts that many of us are faced with.

Oh and did I mention this is a FREE training that is open to the public, not only military professionals, but to all who may be interested?

Be on the lookout for more details to come. In the meantime, begin penciling in the VLE trainings into your calendar.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on July 3, 2015.

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Family Relationships as the Context for Intervention

By Jenna M. Weglarz-Ward

Creative Commons Licensing [Flickr, It's A Family Portrait, January 23, 2011]
Creative Commons Licensing [Flickr, It’s A Family Portrait, January 23, 2011]
Relationships between young children and their primary caregivers are the foundation for child development, growth, and learning. These early relationships have the potential to support or hinder a child’s development. Positive relationships help build neural connections and effective executive functioning necessary in later in life. Challenging relationships may hinder the development of strong and integrative connections and impact self-regulation and learning. (Learn more about relationships and brain development at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University (http://developingchild.harvard.edu/).

To this end, the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) Part C early intervention services stress the need for family-centered practices including teaming and collaboration with family members as well as intervention based on family preferences and routines (OSEP, 2008). Intervention should enhance the ability of caregivers to support their children’s development.

Across professional disciplines such as occupational and speech therapy (see list below of professional recommended practices), intervention should:

  • take place in children’s natural environments such as family homes and community settings (e.g., child care programs, libraries, restaurants, grocery stores),
  • be embedded in functional and meaningful routines such as play, household chores, mealtimes, or bathing,
  • be carried out by caregivers with the support and coaching of professionals, and
  • provide families with community resources to meet their individual needs.

By developing interventions that are focused on the relationships and interactions between children and family members, families recognize the importance of their relationships and are empowered to support their children’s learning. In order to achieve this goal, providers need to consider the needs of each family and the unique child-caregiver relationships. This can be challenging for professionals as many are trained in medical models or classroom settings that focus intervention directly on the patient or child. Seeking professional development and support for this model of relationship-based intervention can help professionals develop these important skills.

Professional Recommended Practices

  • Copple, C., & Bredekamp, S. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth to age 8. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children. (2014). DEC   Recommended Practices for Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education.
  • Division of Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children. (2014). DEC position statement: The role of special instruction in early intervention.
  • American Occupational Therapy Association. (2010). AOTA practice advisory on occupational therapy in early intervention.  http://bit.ly/1LxF90d
  •  American Occupational Therapy Association. (2009). FAQ: What is the role of occupational therapy in early intervention.
  •  Chiarello, L., & Effgen, S. K. (2006). Updated competencies for physical therapists working in early intervention. Pediatric Physical Therapy, 18, 148-158.
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2008). Core knowledge and skills in early intervention speech-language pathology practice [Knowledge and Skills]. Available from http://www.asha.org/policy/

This post was written by Jenna Weglarz-Ward, EdM & Michaelene M. Ostrosky, PhD, members of the MFLN FD Early Intervention team, which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

Where is the Salt (Sodium)?

Flickr, Sodium Chloride Crystals (NASA, International Space Station, 05/13/03) Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Flickr, Sodium Chloride Crystals (NASA, International Space Station, 05/13/03) Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Robin Allen, MSPH, RDN, LDN

The 2010 US Dietary Guidelines recommends a reduction in sodium intake to less than 2300 mg a day and to 1500 mg for persons who are 51 and older, African American, have hypertension, diabetes or chronic kidney disease. At that time I was an Administrative Dietitian for a large multi-unit college food service. When these guidelines came out I immediately and naively went to my Chefs (yes they were all trained certified chefs) and asked them to decrease the amount of salt being used.  From the horrified expressions and anguished protests you would have thought I was taking away their first born!  

I started looking into our recipes and menus, which thankfully were all in our menu management system with the nutritional analysis.  Now I began to understand the magnitude of the problem!  Reducing the use of salt was only the tip of the ice berg!  Many foods, not naturally high in sodium, became so because of soup base mixes, seasoning mixes, and use of processed foods. Even some chicken breasts, my go to “healthy meal”, may contain excessive sodium due to a process called “plumping”.  Plumping is the injection of a saline solution into the chicken breast during processing to enhance flavor , and add weight. Changing over 1500 recipes which fed up to 20,000 students per day was massive and monumental undertaking!  This would also involve a change in purchasing products, food preparation, such as making soup base from scratch, changing the Chefs’ attitudes and changing our entire taste profile.  And finally our customers would complain and add salt!  It is no wonder that consumers are confused and have difficulty controlling their sodium intake.

So where so we get the most sodium in our diet if it not just salt? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the following is true about sodium content of the diet:

  • Americans get 75% of the sodium from restaurants, prepackaged, and processed foods.
  • Salt added during cooking at home is only 5% of the intake of sodium.
  • Some foods naturally contain sodium which makes up the remaining 12%.
  • Many processed, packaged food are high in sodium but do not taste salty.
  • Bread and rolls, luncheon meat, cured meats, and pizza top the list in sodium.
  • Bread can contain anywhere from 80 to 230 mg of sodium per slice.
  • 1 serving of lunch meat can contain 750mg of sodium, half of some peoples’ daily allowance.

Sodium intake is not just a problem for Americans.    Excessive sodium intake is a key factor contributing to prehypertension and hypertension all over the world.  Identifying food sources of sodium is critical.  Using data from the  INTERMAP Study to define major food sources of sodium in diverse East Asian and Western population samples, researchers set out to discover the source of sodium in the diets of these countries.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), most of the world’s population consumes 2,300 mg to 4,600 mg sodium per day.  Where is this sodium coming from?  In Japan, China and Southern China, salt added during cooking, soy sauce and salted vegetables were the main source of sodium.  In the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US), breads, grains, cereal, salt from restaurants, fast food and processed foods at home,  and red meats, poultry and eggs were the primary source. The conclusion of the study indicated that China should focus on reducing salt in cooking and Japan, the UK and US must reduce sodium in processed food.

So how do Dietitians and Health educators help their patients/clients lower their sodium intake?  The following steps are outlined by the CDC.

  • Eat more fresh or frozen (no sauces) fruits and vegetables.
  • Look for no salt added or low sodium versions when using canned vegetables, or choose frozen varieties without sauce.
  • Read the nutrition labels on packaged foods. Compare sodium in different brands.
  • More home cooked meals prepared without using processed or packaged foods.
  • Use salt free herbs and spices rather than processed sauces, packaged broths, packaged seasoning mixes or condiments.
  • When you do go out to eat, ask restaurants not to add salt to your meal. Use condiments in small amounts; ask for lemon, vinegar or other condiments to help with flavor.
  • Ask your favorite restaurants, stores, and food manufacturers to offer more low-sodium options.
  • You CAN re-train your taste buds. Over time, the less sodium you eat, the less you’ll want.

What are you doing to help your patients/clients reduce their sodium intake?

Are you looking at your facilities’ menus and recipes to see if adjustments can be made to food preparation and purchasing?

Are you educating your staff of the importance of sodium reduction in the diet and food supply?

References:

http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/dietaryguidelines2010.pdf

ANDERSON,CA, APPEL,JA, OKUDA, Dietary Sources of Sodium in China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, Women and Men Aged 40 to 59 Years: The INTERMAP Study.  J Am Diet Assoc. 2010;110:736-745.

http://www.cdc.gov/salt/pdfs/sources_of_sodium.pdf

This post was written by Robin Allen, member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

 

Partners’ Perceptions of PTSD Symptoms

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD

Creative Commons [Flickr, I Against I, January 1, 2012]
Creative Commons [Flickr, I Against I, January 1, 2012]
Recently, two researchers from Virginia Tech [1] examined factors related to reintegration stress from the perspective of military members and military service member partners.  The findings of the study offer insight into how partners may view military members’ mental health and PTSD symptoms, and how these symptoms impact reintegration after deployment.

Participants in the study totaled 675 and included 380 service members and 295 partners of service members. All participants were the parent of at least one minor child, and all service members had experienced one or more deployments. Participants and partners were asked if the service member had received a diagnosis of PTSD, and if they believed that the military member experienced symptoms of PTSD (regardless of diagnosis).  The service members and the partners rated their perceptions of the military members’ mental health by responding to a survey rating the frequency of 5 emotional states including: nervous, calm, downhearted, happy, and discouraged.  Reintegration stress was determined using a measure designed specifically for this study, with survey questions tailored to military members and partners. It is notable that the partners were not necessarily those of the military service members in the study, so data analyses were not from family dyads and were not linked.

The results of the study indicated that the presence of PTSD symptoms, self-reported mental health, and the mental health of the military member as reported by the partner all affected the level of reintegration stress in military families. Military members and partners both rated their mental health symptoms, as well as those of their partner, as high. Partners’ perceptions of PTSD-related symptoms in military service members was a big contributor to reintegration stress. Partners also reported that the military member’s symptoms affected daily life more than the military member did. Interestingly, having an actual diagnosis of PTSD was not significantly related to reintegration stress in this study.

When working with military service members who have experienced deployment and their partners, it is important to consider individual perceptions and take that into account when treating couples or families.  In some instances, partners may be more acutely aware of PTSD symptoms, and their impact, than the service members themselves.

 

Reference

[1] Marek, L. I., & D’Aniello, C. (2014). Reintegration stress and family mental health: Implications for therapists working with reintegrating military families. Contemporary Family Therapy, 36(4), 443-451. doi:10.1007/s10591-014-9316-4

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.

Key Takeaways from Respite Training

In this month’s MFLN Military Caregiving webinar, the topic at hand was “Respite,” with an emphasis in understanding the value of respite care for family caregivers. As the month of June draws to a close, let’s recap some of the items and key takeaways you can use in your work with clientele from ‘The Value of Respite for Family Caregivers’ training.

Respite care is a term used by professionals who work with family caregivers on finding ways to care for themselves. This month’s webinar presenter and caregiver consultant, Mary Brintnall-Peterson, Ph.D. defined respite in her training as essentially “having ME time.” No matter if we are professionals or family caregivers, we can all use a little “me time.” The question is, “Do we really understand the importance of caring for ourselves and alternative care solutions?”

If we look back at Dr. Brintnall-Peterson’s presentation, she identified potential benefits to using respite such as, reduce caregiver stress, improve health and well-being, minimize precursors to abuse and neglect, and strengthen marriages and family stability. She also discussed the two types of respite care: (1) home-based respite and (2) out-of-home respite. If we break down the two types of respite care further, examples include:

  • Home-based respite: professional services; sitter companion services; family and friends
  • Out-of-home respite: Assisted living facilities; residential facilities; camps; retreats, hospital type programs

The June caregiver training also increased awareness of available respite resources for both caregivers of wounded service members and those caring for individuals with special needs. What was so unique about this particular professional development webinar was that the presenter engaged participants with thought-provoking questions and scenarios on how they would respond to their particular clientele using the information they learned in the training. Dr. Brintnall-Peterson left participants with six key takeways to use when reflecting on their caregiver clientele and caseload. Review the image below and think about your own caregiver clientele and how these tips can be helpful as you work through your cases.

Respite Recap

If you missed this month’s caregiving webinar, The Value of Respite for Family Caregivers, there is still time to watch the recording and receive continuing education credit or a certificate of completion.

This MFLN-Military Caregiving concentration blog post was published on June 26, 2015.

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VLE #MFLNchat recap

The Personal Finance Virtual Learning Event, held June 2-4, featured daily Twitter chats focused on the topics discussed in that day’s webinar. The webinar speakers were on hand to answer questions and to dig deeper in to the topics discussed in the 90-minute sessions. Here, you can view all the tweets shared during these daily chats, including great discussion on promoting positive financial behavior change and resources to share and use with clients.

Hypertension: Is Sodium all there is?

by Robin Allen, MSPH, RDN, LDN

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (Flikr Army BP, May 26, 2011)
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (Flikr Army BP, May 26, 2011)

When I ask the question, “Hypertension: is sodium all there is?”  I, first, refer you to the USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines for American  which recommends:

  • Reduce daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg).
  • Further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older.
  • Reduce intake to 1,500 and those of any age who are African American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease.
  • The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children, and the majority of adults.” It is estimated that Americans consume about 3400mg per day of sodium.

Second, I remind you that one in three adults has high blood pressure according to the American Society of Hypertension.

Risk factors include:

  • Older age > 35 years
  • Family history
  • Race- African Americans and Hispanic Americans are at higher risk
  • Overweight/obesity
  • Diet high in sodium, too little fruits and vegetables
  • Lack of exercise- recommend at least 30 minutes per day
  • Drinking too much alcohol regularly-more than 2 servings per day

Since the Dietary Guidelines were released, Public Health efforts have focused on reducing the consumption of sodium in the population while many in the food industry have committed to a gradual reduction of sodium in the food supply.  However do consumers care about sodium in their diet?

The 2011 Consumer Sodium Research Report by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) reported that sodium is not a priority for Americans.    Most Americans do not know how much their sodium intake should be or how much sodium they consume. There is also no clear understanding of what constitutes high and low sodium foods.  

As I get older I am astonished at the number of my friends who have high blood pressure or are taking blood pressure lowering medication.  The first thing they tell me is “I never eat salt”.   I want to say that is great but what does the rest of your lifestyle look like? Is salting your food your biggest source of sodium?  Are you exercising routinely?  What about your fruits and vegetables. What is your alcohol intake?  And have you weighed recently?

How do Dietitians/health care providers help their clients/patients manage their blood pressure?

Experts in the field of chronic disease agree that limiting blood pressure education to sodium restriction does not help the consumer sufficiently to manage their blood pressure. Life style strategies must go beyond limiting sodium intake.  Even the most knowledgeable consumer would have difficulty meeting the 1500 mg/d sodium recommendation without changes in the food supply.  Other strategies for managing high blood pressure include eating more fruits and vegetables, weight management, increasing physical activity and moderating alcohol intake.  While certainly sodium restriction is important; a more holistic approach is needed to help consumers manage their blood pressure. 

What struggles do you face with your patients when trying to apply the scientific recommendations to the real life situations?

References:

[1] Kolasa, Kathryn, M., Sollid, Kris, Edge, Marianne Smith, Bouchoux, Ann,.Blood Pressure Management: Communicating Comprehensive Lifestyle Strategies Beyond Sodium. Nutrition Today. 47(4):183-190, July/August 2012.

[2] US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. 6th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; 2010. http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf

[3] http://www.ash-us.org/ASH-Patient-Portal/Get-Information/Your-Risk-for-Hypertension.aspx

[4] International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC),  Consumer Sodium Research Concern, Perception, and Action 2011 Food and Health Survey. http://www.foodinsight.org/Content/3862/Sodium%202011_Final%20Report_0916.pdf

This post was written by Robin Allen, member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

 

Adolescents from Military Families: Attitudes Toward Mental Health Care

By Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich

Creative Commons [Flickr, 2015 RT Convention YA Alley, May 26, 2015]
Creative Commons [Flickr, 2015 RT Convention YA Alley, May 26, 2015]
We reviewed the barriers to mental health care reported by military wives in the previous blogs:  Military Wives Matter and Mental Health Care Needs of Military Wives. What are the barriers expressed by teens in military families?

Military children are 2.5 times more likely to develop psychological problems than American children in general, but their utilization of mental health services is low. Adolescents from military families experience stressors unique to the military environment, such as parental deployment and frequent moves. As a result of these stressors they may be more likely to display depressive disorders and/or behavioral disorders. In a recent study by Becker and colleagues, the researchers used structured focus groups and interviews to develop feedback on the barriers to seeking mental health treatment among military families with adolescents [1].

Focus groups and interviews were conducted with 12 parents of adolescent children who had experienced deployment, 13 adolescents with an average age of 13, and 20 mental health providers who had worked with adolescents from military families. Over one-half of the parents participating reported that their adolescent was experiencing emotional or behavioral problems.  A total of 7 focus groups or interview discussions were conducted with the 25 family members.  Service providers participated in individual interviews in person, or by telephone.  Themes that emerged in the analysis were divided into two groups: (1) Internal barriers related to attitudes; and (2) External barriers related to time and effort or financial concerns. The most often cited internal barriers related to attitudes for not seeking mental health care among teens were: lack of interest or perceived relevance, stigma, an ethic of self-reliance, and confidentiality concerns.

Teens most often reported a lack of perceived relevance in seeking help.  Teens reported that they would not participate in services that “required them to talk about their feelings” or that they didn’t need help or did not have problems.  Adolescents also reported that they were self-reliant and wanted to “figure things out” on their own and cited their military family’s attitude of self-reliance.  This attitude of self-reliance in military families was consistent with therapists’ observations – acknowledging military families’ strong sense of independence.  They also expressed concerns about what others would think of them if they attended therapy, particularly other family members who had a negative view of therapy. Confidentiality was the most often cited reason for not seeking help when all three groups were considered, and was often related to concerns about the effect of seeking mental health care on the military member’s career.

Additionally, external barriers were cited as a reason for not pursuing mental health services. Time, effort, logistical concerns, and financial barriers were all found to be external barriers impacting the decision to pursue mental health services. Families and therapists reported a high number of activities and appointments during the teen years, and the ability to handle the busy schedules becomes even more challenging for families during a parental deployment, when the burden of family responsibilities fall to the remaining parent.

When addressing the needs of a teen it is important to consider that a teen’s attitude toward seeking help for the stressors of military life may vary from those of their parents.  While the ethic of self-reliance may be a family norm, considering barriers due to a perceived lack of relevance and stigma may be particularly important when working with adolescents. It is also important to consider the external realities faced by many military families that can make participation in therapy challenging.

 

Reference:
[1] Becker, S. J., Swenson, R. R., Esposito-Smythers, C., Cataldo, A. M., & Spirito, A. (2014). Barriers to seeking mental health services among adolescents in military families. Professional Psychology: Research And Practice, 45(6), 504-513. doi:10.1037/a003612.

This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.