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University of Phoenix Survey on Military Mental Health and Civilian Workforce Transition Experiences Highlights the Challenges of Stigma and the Opportunities Employers Can Take to Improve Workplace Well-Being for All Employees

By Sharla Hooper

Give an Hour CEO Dr. Trina Clayeux shares insights and a workplace toolkit for employers 

In a new survey commissioned by the Harris Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix, most U.S. military members (93%) agreed that mental health is as important as physical health, however a third of military members (33%) reported never seeking out professional counseling, despite the majority experiencing lack of sleep (69%) and anxiety (61%). The survey was part of a larger initiative by University of Phoenix working with the nonprofit Give an Hour and other large employers including Booz Allen Hamilton, CVS Health, Buckingham Consulting Group, LLC, Transcend, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: Hiring Our Heroes, to develop a Veteran Workplace Toolkit for employers.

“Transitioning into the civilian workforce and encountering workplace stress creates risk factors for military veterans,” states Trina Clayeux, Ph.D., CEO, Give an Hour. “There is an urgent need for a fundamental shift – we need more people educated around mental health –– to understand what it might be to experience distress, to understand when they are witnessing it, and to help create a supportive work environment where managing mental health and stress loads are seen as an integral focus on overall health and well-being.”

The survey found that nearly two-thirds of active or non-active members have sought professional counseling. For those who have not sought out professional counseling, at least one-third of active or non-active military did not do so because they did not want to be perceived as weak.

“The survey highlights that stigma and concerns about negative repercussions remain barriers for military members and those transitioning to the civilian workforce,” states Eric Ryan, senior director of military operations in the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs at University of Phoenix, and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and a member of the task force that helped develop the workplace toolkit for employers. “There is a sense of urgency for business leaders to actively foster a culture where conversations about mental health and seeking support is embraced as a norm within their organizations.”       

The survey findings underscore earlier results of the University of Phoenix’s 2023 Career Optimism Index®, which revealed that mental health concerns were top of mind for American workers with 74 percent saying they feel stressed about their job/career but only 39% reporting that they have sought mental health resources to manage work-related stress.

Give an Hour joined with employers including Booz Allen, CVS Health, Buckingham Consulting Group, LLC, Transcend, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. (VFW), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation: Hiring Our Heroes, and University of Phoenix to address concerns for veterans’ mental health and transitioning into the civilian workplace by creating a Veteran Workforce Toolkit to help employer organizations in building a more supportive workforce environment. “Everyone from these organizations who helped inform the Tool Kit are veterans themselves leading with compassion, empathy, and commitment to well-being,” shares Clayeux.

Clayeux brings a wealth of executive experience in workforce development and mental health to her role as CEO of Give an Hour with a career spanning various impactful roles, including tenure as a national corporate network for military spouse employment. A military and veteran spouse for many years, Clayeux is a dedicated advocate for the military community’s personal and professional growth. She shared survey insights during a virtual media tour on October 31, speaking with more than 20 media outlets across the U.S.

“We are encouraging leaders and colleagues to one, learn more about mental health, sign up to become a Give an Hour Wellness Ambassador and understand how to use our tools and information. Two, identify your best practices for building resiliency, and share your practices with others, and three, get comfortable normalizing empowering conversations about mental health that foster connection and trust,” states Clayeux. “Fourth and finally, employers can work with us to use the Give An Hour Toolkit as a guiding compass to support service members and prioritize the well-being of ourselves and others.”

The study was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the University of Phoenix from July 10-31, 2023, among 762 U.S. adults aged 18-55 who have ever served in the military and are either currently active or non-active duty who served in the military less than five years ago. Data are weighted where necessary by education, age by sex, race/ethnicity, region, income, size of household, marital status, active and non-active duty status, and propensity to be online to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population of those who are age 18 to 55 and have served in the US military. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in The Harris Poll surveys. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 5.3 percentage points using a 95% confidence level.

Learn more here about the Give an Hour Veteran Workforce Toolkit.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit

About Give an Hour

Give an Hour®, founded in 2005, is a national organization dedicated to transforming mental health by building strong and healthy individuals and communities. We specifically provide mental health support to people impacted by humanmade trauma through an innovative approach that empowers those we help to actively take part in their own mental health journey. Mental health is for everyone, For Life.  Learn more and get involved at