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The Psychological Wellbeing of Serving Military Personnel and Veterans

Venue: Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Date: Thursday 15th November 2012


Fiona Butcher BSc(soc) MSc CPsychol AFBPsS CSci

Fiona is a Registered Chartered Occupational Psychologist with more than 15 years experience of working in the defence sector and for the last 6 years has been working for MOD's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl). Fiona's experience has included working with military personnel in operational environments. Over the years she has led a range of research and consultancy projects in support of military recruitment and selection practices as well as training and organisational development initiatives.

Professor Simon Wessely MA, BM BCh, MSc, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych, F Med Sci, FKC
Director, King's Centre for Military Health Research and Vice Dean, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London

Simon Wessely is Professor of Psychological Medicine and Vice Dean at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, Head of the Department of Psychological Medicine, and Honorary Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist at King's and Maudsley Hospitals. He is Director of the King's Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) at King's College London (www.kcl.ac.uk/kcmhr), and of the Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health (ACDMH), a partnership between MOD and King's College London. He is Honorary Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry for the British Army, and a member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council. He is one of the new Foundation Senior Investigators of the National Institute of Health Research, and is a Trustee of the charity Combat Stress.

Prof Wessely has recently co authored books on chronic fatigue syndrome,  the randomised controlled trial in psychiatry, and a new history of shell shock - but none has yet reached the best seller lists.  He is more proud of the fact, contrary to the expectations of his friends and family, he has now completed the Pedal to Paris to raise money for the Royal British Legion for the sixth time, although Paris gets further away each year.

Col Peter McAllister

Colonel Peter McAllister is the Army's Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry and a Consultant Forensic & General Adult Psychiatrist. Having trained in Medicine at Kings College London, He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1990. He was the Regimental Medical Officer to two infantry battalions in Londonderry, before training in Psychiatry in North Yorkshire.

Appointed an Armed Forces Consultant Psychiatrist in 2004, he served as the Command Psychiatrist in Headquarters Northern Ireland, overseeing the draw down of Operation Banner, and the mental health needs associated with the disbandment of the Home Service Royal Irish regiments.

Having deployed on Operation Telic, Colonel McAllister has undertaken regular supervisory visits to Field mental Health teams deployed on successive Op Telics. He also chairs the Operational Mental Health Working Group for UK Armed forces. He recently carried out the Operational Mental Health Needs Evaluation in Afghanistan.

He is married to Sarah and they share two children Charlotte (15) and Hamish (9). The most recent addition to the family being "Fred" the Black Labrador, a retired Home Office Passive Drug Search dog.

Dr Gail Walker-Smith  

Paul Cawkill   C.Psychol  AFBPsS.

Paul spent eleven years as a Registered General and Psychiatric Nurse in the NHS, before graduating part-time from the University of London with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and an MSc in Occupational Psychology. He has Chartered Psychologist status and the Certificate of Competence in Occupational Testing (Level A and Level B).

Paul joined Senior Psychologist (Naval), MoD in 1989 working in the field of Occupational Psychology, and specialising in recruitment, selection, allocation and training of Naval ratings. Following a number of reorganisations of MoD human scientists he is now a Senior Psychologist with the Human Systems Group in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) which is part of the UK MoD. He has designed and carried out numerous questionnaire surveys over the last 20 years, and has also worked on such projects as selection aspects of PTSD, military commanders' attitudes to stress, evaluating the Royal Marines Stress Trauma Management Programme (TRiM), bereavement support in the military, and occupational well-being within the British Army. Paul has represented the UK MoD on a number of international research working groups, e.g. NATO and TTCP.

He is a Visiting Researcher with King's College London, working with Professor Simon Wessely and the Defence Professor of Mental Health - Surgeon Captain Neil Greenberg. Paul has a diploma and Master's degree in counselling, and works on a voluntary basis for Alton Counselling Service and Cruse Bereavement Care.

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes CPsychol CSci FBPsS

Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes is an HPC Registered Chartered Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Clinical Neuropsychologist, BABCP accredited Cognitive-Behavioural Psychotherapist and EMDR Consultant. He studied psychology at University College, London and Clinical Psychology at Cambridge and Surrey Universities. Over his 20 year career in mental health, Jamie has produced over 60 peer-reviewed papers, reports, book chapters and conference papers in the areas of cognitive behavioural therapy, EMDR, clinical hypnosis and the psychological effects of military operations, including post-traumatic stress disorders. He has presented on the subjects of his research and academic interests to audiences across the world, including in the USA, Canada and Australia. He became Clinical Senior Lecturer at the Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health at King's College London in 1994, was appointed Head of Defence Clinical Psychology for the MoD in 2007 and became Defence Consultant Advisor in Psychology in 2008. During this time he first conceived the concept of a BPS Military Psychology Section and began initial discussions with the BPS. Since leaving the MoD in 2011, Jamie has been the Clinical Lead for the IAPT Service in Mid Essex, where he is responsible for all clinical aspects of the service, including the development of new and innovative clinical services. Jamie is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in Military Psychology at King's College London, an Honorary Lecturer in Psychology at City University, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Visiting Professor of Military Psychological Therapies at Anglia Ruskin University where he and his team are developing a pioneering MSc in Military and Veteran Mental Health. Jamie appears regularly in the media on topics of public interest concerned with military and veteran mental health.

Dr Rachel Norris DPhil

Rachel Norris is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Defence Clinical Psychology for the MOD.   After completing her academic doctorate in Developmental Psychology at the University of Oxford, she went on to train as a Clinical Psychologist and has spent the past 17 years working as a Clinical Psychologist in both the NHS and MOD.  Rachel has been a practising cognitive behavioural therapist for 18 years with a special interest in supervision and training and the treatment of complex presentations (especially involving early trauma).  Since taking up the post as Head of Service, she has focused her attention on the further development of psychological services to meet the needs of military personnel in the UK and overseas, with particular emphasis on equitable access to high quality psychological formulation and evidence-based treatments.

Dr Neil Verrall CPsycol, CSci, AFBPsS

Neil is a Principal Psychologist within the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and is based at Porton Down (Wiltshire) within the Human Systems Group (Social and Behavioural Sciences Team). As well as his technical specialty in Health Psychology, Neil regards himself as a hands-on applied, field scientist and operational analyst. Neil has extensive experience of conducting empirical field research around the globe, most importantly deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan four times in the last five years, most recently spending six-months in Afghanistan from May-December 2011.

Before academia and Defence science, Neil's previous life was in the Royal Navy (1988-94). His current role in London allows him to roam up and down Whitehall pulling together the cross-government science and analysis community in order to address and inform real world issues at the strategic level.

Major Cameron March MBE

Cameron March joined the Royal Marines in 1963 and has served in all the majority of major conflicts that have involved the Corps in recent years. During his service he alternated in employment serving both as a Royal Marines Policeman and as an infantry NCO and officer in Commando Units. Following the Falklands conflict in which he served as a Company Sergeant Major in 42 Commando RM, he was commissioned in 1983 and has subsequently risen to his current rank.

In 1996, whilst serving in the Headquarters Royal Marines as a MSF officer, he was asked to investigate and develop a suitable trauma management model for use by members of the Royal Marines. The resulting ‘Trauma Risk Management' (TRiM) model has been used by the Royal Marines Command since 1998 and has been subsequently used by many other civilian and military organisations. In 2007 he was published in the book "Combat Stress Injury".

He now works as a Staff Officer on the Headquarters Staff of the Commander in Chief  Fleet where he is responsible for all aspects of trauma management for the Naval Command. Recently, he has taken on the added responsibility of the Coroners Liaison Officer for Naval and Royal Marines Inquests.

In addition to his military trauma work, he has deployed to the Selby Rail Crash, New York for 9/11, Athens, and last year to Istanbul. He was awarded the MBE in 2001 for his work in the trauma field and also holds an Advanced Diploma in the ‘Management of Psychological Trauma' awarded by Nottingham Trent University.

In 2009 he was nominated for the Sun Military Awards for his trauma work for Royal Marines returning from Afghanistan.

Martina Mueller

Martina Mueller is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist who works as a specialist trainer and supervisor for the Oxford Cognitive Therapy Centre. She is Course Director of the Post Graduate Certificate in CBT for Psychological Trauma run in collaboration with the University of Oxford.  In addition she leads the trauma service for Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. Martina is widely respected for her innovative clinical work and specializes in the assessment and treatment of complex reactions following adult trauma. She has had extensive experience of working with military veterans and has a special interest in the treatment of multiple and prolonged trauma following occupational trauma. Martina is one of the editors of the Oxford Guide to Behavioural Experiments in Cognitive Therapy, and is lead editor of the 'Oxford Guide to Surviving as a CBT Therapist' published by OUP in 2010.

Dr Imogen Sturgeon -Clegg

has worked with veterans throughout her career as a Counselling Psychologist, firstly in Older Adult Community Mental Health Services in the NHS then at Combat Stress, where she has worked for the past four years. For her Doctorate thesis she wrote two papers concerning the appropriateness of suggested psychological interventions for Second World War Veterans and working therapeutically with veterans with PTSD who are avoidant. At Combat Stress she played a major role in developing elements of the six week PTSD treatment programme having visited Heidelberg Veterans Hospital in Melbourne, Australia where they run treatment programmes that are considered the gold standard in this area. She is directly involved in the group and individual psychological treatment of veterans as well as the continuing development of the programme. 

Surgeon Captain Morgan O'Connell FRCPsych

Surgeon Captain Morgan O'Connell joined the Royal Navy in 1965 as a Medical Cadet whilst studying medicine at Galway University on the West coast of Ireland from where he qualified MB BCh BAO in 1968. It had not been his intention to serve more than the five years of a Short Service Commission.  The fact that he stayed for 31 years and that he left as Consultant Advisor in Psychiatry to the Medical Director General (Navy) indicates that something had happened to change his mind.

He did his first tour of duty at Haslar, the Royal Naval Hospital in Gosport where he was to meet his wife to be a Physio Student.  He volunteered for service with the Royal Marines, or in submarines and in the inimitable way the Appointer has, he was sent on a round the world cruise in HMS Blake from which he returned having played lots of Rugby, drunk masses of beer and met many blondes in green bikinis.  He thought he knew all he needed to know about the Royal Navy until he went to sea in HMS/M Walrus followed by ‘trips' in Churchill and Courageous. 

With a view to training in General Practice on completion of his submarine service, he opted to spend six months at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley near Southampton to gain some experience of psychiatry. He was allocated to the Alcoholics Ward and the week after joining decided that in the light of his cultural background he should take an interest in Alcoholism.  Six years later he left Netley having obtained the Diploma in Psychological Medicine (DPM) in 1974 and Membership of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych) in 1976. He was appointed Consultant in Psychiatry at the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in 1980 and elected Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (FRCPsych) in 1990.  In the intervening years he had kept in touch with the Navy by spending some time in HMS Ariadne and HMS Lincoln during the Cod Wars (1974) and returning to sea for a year in HMS Fearless in 1978 in a General Duties Capacity.  This last full sea-going appointment was to convince him that he should not only stay in psychiatry but also in the Royal Navy.

By chance he found himself on the Great White Whale (SS Canberra) in 1982 as Psychiatrist to the Surgical Support Team (SST) attached to Three Commando Brigade.  This ninety-nine day cruise was to change his life professionally, when he finally realised what being a Naval Trickcyclist was all about, this after spending ten years in Psychiatry in the Military!

The Royal Navy was ready and willing to recognise that, in spite of being the best Navy in the world, many of the lessons learned in previous conflicts had been forgotten in the intervening period, particularly in matters psychological.  With this support, Surgeon Captain O'Connell was able to develop his interest in the aftermath of war and the emerging study of what had become known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; a new name for an old condition.  This interest led to the Department of Psychiatry at the Royal Naval Hospital becoming involved in the aftermath of a number of disasters including that of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise at Zeebrugge, Lockerbie, Piper Alpha, Clapham Rail Crash, Kings Cross Fire and others.  Surgeon Captain O'Connell introduced the SPRINT (Special Psychological Rapid Intervention Team) to the Royal Navy, the forerunner of the TRIM, so endorsed by the Royal Marines.

Currently Surgeon Capt. O'Connell is enjoying life in ‘retirement'. He provides a Consulting Service in the Southampton/Portsmouth area. His primary aim, is to improve on his golf handicap. With four of his five daughters married into the Army and his son having recently completed an SSC in the Micks, his knowledge of the Army is gradually increasing.  To date his knowledge of the Air Force has been confined to the occasional trip as a passenger.

Susie, his wife, has finally come to accept that being married to a Psychiatrist does not necessarily mean that everything she says and does is analysed in depth, this does however continue to amuse her friends. 

Dr Margaret Evison  BA Hons Dip Psych C Psychol

Margaret Evison is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, who for 14 years has developed and led a multi-disciplinary cancer support service in a large London hospital trust, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust.  She is now semi-retired, and working in cancer services at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Her son Lt Mark Evison, a young Welsh Guards officer leading a platoon in Helmand Province, was shot on patrol in May 2009 and subsequently died. He left behind a diary now used at RMA Sandhurst to prepare cadets for the reality of conflict.

The day of that ambush near Nad-e-Ali was a terrible day for the platoon and one which the soldiers still find difficult to leave behind. It was described in the very powerful war documentary ‘The Lost Platoon', a recent episode of BBC3's ‘Our War'.

Margaret remains in contact with some of the soldiers, and accompanied Gnr Steven Gadsby when he was given his Conspicuous Gallantry Cross at Buckingham Palace by the Queen. She has become very aware of the effects of that day on the men, who at the time were leaderless and pulled together so well as a team to get out of danger and get Mark back to the patrol base and safety. She can speak first-hand about their reactions and experience.   

She has written a book about her experience since Mark's death ‘Death of a Soldier, a Mother's Story', published by Biteback and available on 1 November. It includes Mark's diary in full.  

The speakers listed are subject to change

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