Serving Those Who Serve: Neuropsychologist takes the lead at military psychological center

The Psychological Health Center of Excellence offers resources for military psychologists and civilian providers.

By Heather O'Beirne Kelly

Neuropsychologist, APA member and Div. 19 Fellow Capt. Carrie Kennedy, PhD, has a huge new role as director of the Department of Defense's (DoD's) Psychological Health Center of Excellence (PHCoE). Kennedy took the helm of PHCoE following multiple tours of duty and leadership positions around the world, including serving as department head of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program at the Naval Hospital in Okinawa, leading the mental health department at Naval Branch Health Clinic in Bahrain and deploying to Afghanistan with the 1st Medical Battalion.

Recently reorganized within DoD, PHCoE's mission is to enhance military readiness by advancing excellence in psychological healthcare across the entire military health system. This involves supporting all service branches and combatant commands; increasing access and reducing barriers to care while encouraging "optimal use of psychological health resources;" and advancing the science of psychological health for immediate translation into improved health service delivery for service members and their families.

Kennedy notes that the center serves as a critical resource not only for military psychologists but also "for civilian providers, professionals considered vital in optimizing the psychological health of the military population." Three particularly valuable sections of the PHCoE website for anyone seeing members of the military and/or their families include:

  • The Clinician's Corner blog series, which explores a range of mental health topics unique to the military.
  • Psych Health Evidence Briefs, which are concise descriptions of specific treatments for various disorders and whether or not they are shown to work in the military population.
  • inTransition, a free DoD program which will find mental health care for any transitioning service member (e.g., moving to a different duty station, getting out of the military, coming back from deployment, etc.) to avoid the risks associated with interruption of care."

Finally, check out The Real Warriors Campaign, PHCoE's "multimedia public awareness campaign designed to combat the stigma associated with seeking care and encourage service members to reach out for appropriate treatment." Share free military-themed campaign materials on resilience and help-seeking with your own clients and other providers, and engage with the @realwarriors community on Facebook and Twitter.

About the author

Heather O'Beirne Kelly, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and APA's first director of military and veterans health policy. Watch this space for regular updates on issues ranging from protecting the VA's integrated care system, to advocating for more attention to military sexual assault prevention, to encouraging more systematic training on evidence-based treatments.