Direct and Indirect Effects of Mindfulness, PTSD, and Depression on Self-Stigma of Mental Illness in OEF/OIF Veterans

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy


Military Health System Research Symposium


Objective: Two of the most common and costly mental health diagnoses among military veterans who served in the post-9/11 conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, but over half of veterans who screen positive for these problems do not seek treatment. A key barrier is self-stigma of mental illness. Mindfulness has shown promise as an explanatory variable in the context of mental health symptoms and self-stigma, but these associations are underexplored in the veterans’ literature. This study examines direct and indirect effects among mindfulness, PTSD and depression, and self-stigma in post-9/11-era military veterans. Method: A sample of 577 veterans from 3 large American cities completed surveys capturing mindfulness, symptoms of PTSD and depression, and self-stigma. A structural equation modeling approach was used to examine direct and indirect effects among study variables. Results: Mindfulness was associated with less PTSD and depression and indirectly with less self-stigma through the PTSD pathway. PTSD was associated with more depression and self-stigma, and depression was not significantly associated with self-stigma. Conclusion: PTSD is strongly associated with self-stigma in military veterans, many of whom do not seek mental health treatment. Findings show that mindfulness is a promising intervention target for reducing symptoms of PTSD directly and reducing associated self-stigma of mental illness indirectly. Additional investigation of links between mindfulness, PTSD and depressive symptoms, and self-stigma in military veterans is warranted.


Social and Behavioral Sciences | Social Work



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