By Lt. James Keener, NMCSD Public Affairs
SAN DIEGO - Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) Mental Health Department in close consultation with the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, instituted the Psychological Health Pathways (PHP) program to improve mental health care for service members who have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF).
Providing the highest quality mental health care for service members and their families stationed in San Diego is a principal goal for the Mental Health Department at NMCSD. Safeguarding and strengthening the mental health needs of service members is especially important as OIF and OEF continue.
The PHP program implemented in August 2009 streamlines, standardizes and manages the treatment of service members returning from combat zones who need mental health services. The PHP program provides a wide range of services to service members to include: assessing their mental health symptoms and needs, recommending appropriate comprehensive evidenced based treatments, and tracking patient progress in treatment through case management meetings and via a trauma registry to ensure active duty and discharged veterans have follow-up care at new commands.
Service members requiring mental health care, receive a comprehensive and standardized assessment that identifies a wide range of potential services. Then a case manager, mental health provider and the service member collaborate to determine the ideal treatment or combination of evidenced based treatments for the individual.
“Case management services reduce the providers’ workload, allowing them to focus their energy on treating the service member and in-turn reducing provider burnout,” said Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Lesley Ross, Psychological Health Pathways Program psychiatrist. “With the extra time, providers are also able to engage in professional development activities, such as attending up-to-date training and educational activities, so they can stay on top of trends in treatment.”
Once the service member starts to receive treatment, progress is tracked closely by the highly trained and licensed PHP program staff who continuously assess the service member’s progress towards treatment goals.
Numerous advanced mental health treatments are available at NMCSD to include: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Prolonged Exposure therapy (PE), medication management and comprehensive substance abuse treatment.
“We are committed to providing timely care which is evidenced based, empirically validated and outcome driven so that everyone receives the highest level of care,” said Ross.
Due to the large number of returning combat veterans in need of treatment, the PHP program hired additional social workers and registered nurse case managers, in March 2010, which provides full service psychological case management for returning veterans.
For more information on NMCSD’s Mental Health Department please visit: http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/Patients/Pages/MedicalServices/MentalHealthServices.aspx