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HEALTH / WELL-BEING

Forward psychiatry – early intervention for mental health problems among UK armed forces in Afghanistan

January, 2017
Article:

This article considers how deployed mental health practitioners facilitated a return to the deployed operational unit for around three quarters of personnel who consulted with them in Afghanistan, thus opening up an avenue for early intervention and preventative activities.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: This observational study examined return to duty (RTD) rates following receipt of early mental health interventions delivered by deployed mental health practitioners. METHOD: In-depth clinical interviews were conducted among 975 UK military personnel referred for mental health assessment whilst deployed in Afghanistan. Socio-demographic, military, operational, clinical and therapy outcomes were recorded in an electronic health record database. Rates and predictors of EVAC were the main outcomes examined using adjusted binary logistic regression analyses. RESULTS: Overall 74.8% (n=729) of personnel RTD on completion of care. Of those that underwent evacuation home (n=246), 69.1% (n=170) returned by aeromedical evacuation; the remainder returned home using routine air transport. Predictors of evacuation included; inability to adjust to the operational environment, family psychiatric history, previously experiencing trauma and thinking about or carrying out acts of deliberate self-harm. CONCLUSION: Deployed mental health practitioners helped to facilitate RTD for three quarters of mental health casualties who consulted with them during deployment; psychological rather than combat-related factors predicted evacuation home.

Full Reference

Jones, N., Fear, N. T., Wessely, S., Thandi, G., Greenberg, N. (2017). Forward psychiatry: early intervention for mental health problems among UK armed forces in Afghanistan. European Psychiatry, 39, 66-72.

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