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Patron: Her Majesty the Queen


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts
Showcasing Scotland's Science, Technology and Innovation

8th Meeting of the 188th Session (2008-2009)

Military Operational Stress and Leadership Aspects of Stress Control

Surgeon Commander John Sharpley RN

In the Augustine United Church
41 George IV Bridge
Edinburgh, EH1 1EL
On Monday 11th May 2009, at 7pm

The occasional media story on mental health in the Armed Forces inevitably focuses on the untoward effects of war and the difficulties of individuals who are suffering. The Armed Forces take mental preparation for operations very seriously, and a part of this involves educating officers and men and women on mental health aspects.

A key problem in the military, but certainly not confined to it, is stigma. Military culture inculcates a toughness that can make it difficult to "put one’s hand up" with a mental health problem, although we know that early management is better management.

This talk will cover what officers need to know about psychological aspects of leadership: the services available to those that need help; "stress"; trauma and its effects; some historical aspects of stress syndromes during and following war; the role of commanders in stress control, and simple methods to manage stress. While of general interest, it will have especial relevance to anyone who leads and manages people.

Surgeon Commander Sharpley joined the Royal Navy in 1987. Having graduated from Cambridge University, in 1989, and then completed house jobs, he worked as a General Duty Medical Officer, working at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lympstone for a few months and then on 3 six month deployments on frigates, and finally in general practice at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose. In 1994 he started training in psychiatry.

Appointed consultant psychiatrist in 2001, he works in the Department of Community Mental Health, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth.

He deployed with the Primary Casualty Receiving Facility on RFA Argus during the Iraq War, leading a mental health team providing mental health services to the Amphibious Task Force. He has written publications on substance misuse audit, pre-operational stress briefing, self harm and the history of naval mental health services. He became adviser in psychiatry to the Navy Command in 2003. He has conducted psychiatric visits to our Forces operating in Afghanistan between November 2007 and February 2009.

Location of meeting

This meeting is open to Fellows and their guests

Jane Ridder-Patrick, Secretary
Telephone: 0131 556 2161

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