Military Mental Health Professionals On Operational Deployment: An Exploratory Study


This study provides an insight and understanding of the experiences of British Mental Health Professionals (MMHPs) on operational deployment, how they carry out their role and engage with colleagues in theatre, what challenges they face and how they respond to them.


This exploratory study aimed to develop greater insight into the occupational and personal nature of the practice of mental healthcare on operational deployments. Twenty-eight British military mental health professionals were identified as having recently returned from deployment, with 35% agreeing to participate in semi-structured qualitative interviews. Results suggest that whilst this population have a range of stressors, their main concern is to work towards the success of the overall mission objectives, mainly through achieving their clinical goals. Such work is impacted by challenges such as ethical difficulties, professional obstacles, bonding with colleagues and personal issues. They do however rely upon a range of intra and inter-personal strategies to overcome these hurdles successfully. A number of suggestions for improved mental healthcare on deployment are also identified. A review of the implications of the findings is offered and recommendations for improved training and support for mental healthcare professionals are explored. Finally, potential avenues for future research are considered.

Full Reference

Mathew McCauley, Helen Liebling-Kalifani, Jamie Hacker Hughes.(2012) Military Mental Health Professionals On Operational Deployment: An Exploratory Study. Community Mental Health Journal (2012) 48:238-248