Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 238–248 | Cite as

Military Mental Health Professionals On Operational Deployment: An Exploratory Study

  • Mathew McCauley
  • Helen Liebling-Kalifani
  • Jamie Hacker Hughes
Original Paper


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.


Military Mental Health Operational Deployment Occupational Stress 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mathew McCauley
    • 1
  • Helen Liebling-Kalifani
    • 2
  • Jamie Hacker Hughes
    • 3
  1. 1.Behavioral Health Flight, 48 MDOS/SGOWUnited States Air ForceRAF Lakenheath, LakenheathUK
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and Life SciencesCoventry UniversityCoventryUK
  3. 3.Joint Medical Command, Ministry of DefenceHeadquarters Surgeon GeneralWhittington Barracks, LichfieldUK

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