ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – The 48th Fighter Wing hosted this year’s U.K. Defence Mental Health Symposium from Oct. 8-10, 2012.
The conference brought together mental health treatment providers from the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, U.K. civilian sector and, for the first time, U.S. service members from across Europe.
The goal of the yearly Ministry of Defence conference is to share information on mental health disorders commonly found to affect military members and treatment methods.
“The Defense Mental health conference is an annual psychology conference for all the mental health providers in the MOD with the tri-service, Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force, and this year we were approached to host it here at Lakenheath and take a joint focus,” said Maj. Michael Detweiler, 48th Medical Operations Squadron mental health flight commander.
Both British and U.S. service members face similar dangers related to military life and can experience the same mental health disorders, but treatment for these disorders can vary between the two countries.
The conference looked to bridge that gap by exchanging ideas and information, as well as building partnerships with other mental health professionals.
“The mental health symposium provided an opportunity for our treatment providers to learn about different and new evidence-based and nonevidence-based treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders,” said Capt. Emily Graze, 48th MDOS clinical physician. “Their approaches and the approaches we use are a bit different. I think to be able to integrate their practices gives us more tools in our tool box to help those who are serving.”
The notion was echoed by their U.K. counterparts.
“You look at how other people do things and it makes you think about your own practice and how you do things. Clearly the U.S. forces have done things their way for years, that we can learn from and vice versa,” said British Army Lt. Col. Rod Eldridge, 16th Air Assault Brigade clinical nurse specialist.
With more than 130 members from various branches and services in attendance, Detweiler considered this year’s conference a great success.
“We shared a lot of information on how we treat mental health disorders in the military, and we were pleased at how well it went,” said Detweiler.