25 June, 2009


Naval Mental Health Services

Naval Mental Health Services (NMHS) consist of three departments of community mental health (DCMHs) each within the three base port areas.  These departments provide clinical, educational and advisory services to both Primary Care and the Executive within their catchment areas.  Inpatient services have been outsourced to the Priory group following the Defence Medical Services Medical Quinquennial Review in 2001.  The overall aim is to provide timely assessment and care to either maximise the Defence Services operational capability or ensure personnel who cannot be rehabilitated receive a smooth transition from Defence Services to civilian life.  The DCMHs provide services to all three Services within their catchment area. 

A major requirement of NMHS is to ensure uniformed mental health personnel are appropriately trained and fit for operational duties.  Mental health teams of a doctor and nurses deploy in times of war to support frontline forces and may also be deployed to provide support following times of disaster or traumatic incident.  Current operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan have nurse teams (two nurses) supporting the forces.

Clinical Services
The DCMHs are staffed with mental health professionals of various disciplines:  Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Mental Health Nurses and a Social Worker as well as Administrative personnel to support the clinical activity.  Staff are a mixed team of uniformed and civilian staff.

Outpatient clinics are held within the DCMHs and sickbays of surrounding establishments.  There are various specialist activities, including Day Support services (at DCMH Portsmouth), Alcohol Education courses and Anxiety Management courses.  Inpatient management is supported by direct liaison with the hospital by a Service Liaison Officer within each DCMH.  An out of hours advice service is provided by the DCMHs, which may be accessed by staff in medical centres.  Emergency referrals will be seen within 24 hours (i.e 1 working day).

Clinical services are available to serving personnel only.  Nevertheless, family members can be involved and seen with their serving family member if this is helpful for the assessment or treatment of that serving member.  

Educational Services
There is clear evidence to support development of a service that focuses not solely upon treatment, but which also fosters a culture of prevention by involving all within the naval community. An educated fighting force that understands the imperative of avoiding unnecessary medicalisation and stigmatisation is more likely to maintain its psychological fitness and hence it’s operational capability.  Education, coupled with the principles of proximity, immediacy, expectancy and simplicity in treatment, is therefore a force multiplier.  The DCMHs provide lecturers for a number of establishments with many lectures given each year on operational psychiatry, alcohol misuse, work stress and other general psychiatric topics.

Advisory Services
Much of the formal mental health promotion is reinforced by more individual (and informal) advice to medical officers, commanding and divisional officers and other welfare agencies.  A considerable amount of activity is undertaken in advising on matters of personnel and medical policy within the various headquarters.  This activity includes a significant amount of data gathering on services provided to ensure appropriate compliance with best practices.

Other Activities
Personnel within NMHS are active in research into matters affecting the mental wellbeing of service personnel.  A major example is the trial of Trauma Risk Management currently underway in FLEET units, which is being undertaken in close liaison with FLEET N1 (Personnel division at FLEET Headquarters).  This trial is testing whether the provision of brief training in risk assessment following traumatic events to non-medical personnel within a unit is helpful or not.  The idea has resonance with the current arrangement of ensuring a part of the unit’s personnel are trained in basic first aid techniques for physical injuries.

Ensuring personnel are fit for task, efforts are required by each mental health professional to engage in continuing professional development, with includes military skills for the uniformed professionals.

Further Information
This can be accessed through unit Medical Centres or

Department of Community Mental Health
PP6 Sunny Walk,
HM Naval Base, Portsmouth
Hants. PO1 3LT

Phone Icon Phone: 02392 726256 | Mil: 93 80 26256

Psychiatric Help Desk
If you or your partner have any questions or are experiencing difficulties in adjusting to normal life after your / their return from operations please use this facility to pose any questions directly to the Naval Psychiatric Services. This facility will be staffed during the normal working week and you should receive a response to your questions within 3 working days.
Before posting your questions we would recommend that you fully read the section in the deployment guide as it may contain the information you require.

info More Information: Psychiatric Help Desk  (For RNcom Members only - You will need to log in to use this facility)

Deployment Guide
This guide, which is about 9 pages, gives advice on what to expect and what you can do, when your spouse, partner or family member deploys for a period of weeks or months.

Download Downloadable File: Deployment Guide (PDF)

To view the PDF file (Portable Document Format), you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader®. Click here to get your FREE download of the software.


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