A service evaluation of self-referral to military mental health teams

Occup Med (Lond). 2016 Jul;66(5):394-8. doi: 10.1093/occmed/kqw044. Epub 2016 Apr 27.


Background: The UK military runs a comprehensive mental health service ordinarily accessed via primary care referrals.

Aims: To evaluate the feasibility of self-referral to mental health services within a military environment.

Methods: Three pilot sites were identified; one from each service (Royal Navy, Army, Air Force). Socio-demographic information included age, rank, service and career duration. Clinical data included prior contact with general practitioner (GP), provisional diagnosis and assessment outcome.

Results: Of the 57 self-referrals, 69% (n = 39) had not previously accessed primary care for their current difficulties. After their mental health assessment, 47 (82%) were found to have a formal mental health problem and 41 (72%) were offered a further mental health clinician appointment. The data compared favourably with a large military mental health department that reported 87% of primary care referrals had a formal mental health condition.

Conclusions: The majority of self-referrals had formal mental health conditions for which they had not previously sought help from primary care; most were offered further clinical input. This supports the view that self-referral may be a useful option to encourage military personnel to seek professional care over and above the usual route of accessing care through their GP.

Keywords: Improving access; mental health; military; self-referral..

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Self Report*
  • United Kingdom