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Caring for the carers: a COVID-19 psychological support programme
  1. Di Lamb1,
  2. A Simms2,
  3. N Greenberg3 and
  4. R D J Withnall4
  1. 1 Academic Department of Military Nursing, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2 Academic Department of Military Mental Health, King's College London, London, UK
  3. 3 Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience, King's College London, London, UK
  4. 4 Headquarters DMS, Defence Medical Services, Lichfield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Gp Capt Di Lamb, Academic Department of Military Nursing, Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Birmingham B15 2SQ, UK; Prof.ADMN{at}


The outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent pandemic brought unprecedented worldwide challenges born out of a rapidly escalating health and economic crisis. From emergency planners to healthcare workers on the front line, and everyone in between, the pandemic, and the uncertainty surrounding it, was likely to become a significant stressor, one with no immediate solution but with the potential to cause enduring distress beyond its conclusion. The UK Defence Medical Services recognised the need to provide an evidence-based programme of care intended to support personnel transitioning from assisting the national response back to normal duties. This was informed by a narrative review that targeted literature exploring strategies for supporting the mental health and well-being of healthcare workers during 21st-century infectious disease outbreaks. The literature identified the experiences most likely to cause enduring distress, which comprised morally challenging decisions, vulnerability, death and suffering, professional and personal challenges, and expectations. The opportunity to find meaning in these experiences, by discussing them with peers who share a contextual understanding, is important to limit the longer-term psychosocial impact of such events. This paper will discuss the design considerations and planned implementation strategy of the Recovery, Readjustment and Reintegration Programme to limit the incidence of distress or longer-term mental ill health among military personnel.

  • COVID-19
  • trauma management
  • mental health
  • organisational development

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  • Contributors DL and AS developed the R3P concept and drafted the manuscript. NG and RW provided their subject matter expertise as the concept developed and editorial assistance for the final manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.