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Military spouses face numerous barriers when accessing mental health resources, including practical concerns such as limited time and social and psychological hurdles such as lack of confidence in resources and stigma. Barriers to care, whether real or perceived, can prevent military spouses from accessing the help they need, and cause them and their loved ones to suffer in silence. In 2021, the Defense Personnel and Security Research Center (PERSEREC), a division of the Defense Personnel Analytics Center (DPAC), collaborated with Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP), Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO), and the military Service branches to develop a mental wellness and suicide prevention training specifically designed for military spouses. Resources Exist, Asking Can Help-Spouse (REACH-Spouse) uses a facilitator-led, small group discussion format to: 1) empower military spouses to prioritize their mental health and access available resources, and 2) teach military spouses how to intervene when they notice warning signs of risk in their Service member. The current two-phase field test assessed whether REACH-Spouse reduces barriers to care among military spouses, enhances their comfort with future help seeking, and increases their willingness to discuss mental health with their Service member using the Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) technique. Another objective of the field test was to enhance REACH-Spouse facilitator training procedures and program materials. In Phase 1, facilitators noted that leveraging leadership and utilizing personal communications were the most effective strategies for recruiting military spouses. Phase 2 results indicated that facilitators found the training they received highly valuable for leading REACH-Spouse sessions with others. Military spouses who attended sessions reported a significant improvement in their knowledge of resources compared to baseline, along with a notable increase in their willingness to access Military OneSource and other resources when facing concerns. Although REACH-Spouse did not significantly reduce military spouses' own barriers to care, it did enhance their understanding of their Service members' barriers to care and their willingness to discuss their Service member’s mental health challenges directly with them.
Produced By: PERSEREC
Document Type: Report
Product ID: TR-24-02, 2024-106