When it comes to mental health, Navy psychologists will have to be licensed
It’s the first time a Navy psychologist has ever been placed in charge of a naval base and it’s an important step towards making sure that psychologists in the service are properly trained and equipped.
A Navy psychiatrist will be placed in command of a military base when a military psychiatrist is nominated by the president and confirmed by the senate, a Navy spokesman told the BBC.
“This is a very good step forward for the safety of our personnel,” he said.
The new regulations came into force on Monday and apply to all US Navy mental health personnel who are in charge at any military base.
They are expected to be fully vetted, but have to undergo two psychological evaluations and be approved by the Office of Naval Health (ONH).
It is likely to mean that Navy psychologists would have to become licensed and have their medical certificates.
This is the first instance of a US government organisation mandating that psychologists are licensed, though some states have already followed suit.
The US military has been struggling to cope with the growing number of suicides among its troops.
In December, it launched a campaign called “Suicide Watch”, urging members of the armed forces to take steps to prevent their mental health from deteriorating.
The move comes after the suicide rate in the US military reached a record high, and many of the soldiers who died were deployed overseas, many of them for months.
In August, the Pentagon launched a new “Suicides Prevention Plan”, aimed at reducing suicides among military personnel.
This new guidance was released to help commanders and senior military leaders better understand the challenges they face.
It is unclear what the changes mean for Navy psychologists, but the move comes amid a national debate over whether psychologists are being given the right training and the role of mental health professionals in the military.
The military has also begun using a new psychological evaluation system, which involves a panel of psychologists from two different hospitals.