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Military healthcare - mental health services

Mental health help for the armed forces

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recognises psychological illness, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as a serious and disabling condition, but one which can be treated.

The Defence Mental Health Services has extensive experience in psychological treatment mental health problems and psychological injury.

The main focus of the treatment of mental illness is on recovery and rehabilitation. Priority is placed on increasing awareness of stress-related disorders and diagnosing and treating them.

Measures are in place to increase awareness at all levels to prevent the development of PTSD and other stress-related disorders among servicemen and women.  

In the field

Support is given to military personnel by trained mental health staff. This includes briefings on how to get help, ongoing assessment and treatment (if required), and is offered before and after servicemen and women are deployed.

If someone thinks they have a mental health condition, they can ask for help from any medical officer or their chain of command.

MoD mental health services provide community-based healthcare, offering assessment and treatment that follows NHS guidelines.  

Outpatient treatment

Mental health services are primarily delivered through 15 military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs) located in large military centres across the UK, as well as centres overseas.

DCMHs are staffed by psychiatrists, mental health nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health social workers.

The aim is to treat personnel with mental health needs at their unit medical centre and, with the patient's permission, involve their GP and senior officers in managing their condition.

A wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments is available, including medication, psychological therapies and a change of environment where appropriate.  

Inpatient care

Inpatient care, when necessary, is provided by the NHS, contracted by the MoD.

Patients receive treatment much closer to their unit than when the armed forces operated its own psychiatric hospitals.

A close relationship is kept between local DCMHs and the NHS to make sure inpatient care is the best it can be.


Page last reviewed: 22/03/2013

Next review due: 22/03/2015

Mental health

3,920 cases of mental disorder in 2007:

Army: 2,318
RAF: 847
Royal Navy: 511 
Royal Marines: 89  
Unknown: 155

Source: Ministry of Defence

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