Morally Injurious Experiences and Mental Health: The Moderating Role of Self-Compassion

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Introduction: Military veterans are at heightened risk for developing mental and behavioral health problems. Morally injurious combat experiences have recently gained empirical and clinical attention following the increased rates of mental and behavioral health problems observed in this population. Objective: Extending extant research, the current investigation assessed the relationship between morally injurious experiences and mental and behavioral health outcomes. Furthermore, it examined the potential protective role of self-compassion in these relationships. Method: Participants were 203 military veterans (M age ± 35.08 years, 77.30% male) who completed online questionnaires. Results: Analyses indicated that self-compassion significantly moderated the relationship between exposure to morally injurious experiences and posttraumatic stress disorder, depression severity, and deliberate self-harm versatility. Conclusions: These results highlight the potential clinical utility of self-compassion in military mental health, particularly in the context of morally injurious experiences.

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Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy