An innovative new pilot partnership has been rolled out across Lancashire in a bid to tackle emergency incidents involving people with mental health issues.
Aimed at reducing demand while ensuring that people get the right assistance at the first point of contact, the Mental Health Response Service (MHRS) will see police officers working in conjunction with dedicated NHS mental health nurses who can make assessments and referrals.
This will mean that people can get the appropriate medical attention on the spot rather than being taken into police custody or admitted to hospital. In addition to this, from August 2015, mental health nurses will also work within the force control room which is where 999 calls are answered. Here they will be able to monitor calls and offer advice to those who are reporting mental health related matters.
Assistant Chief Constable from Lancashire Constabulary’s Force Lead for Early Action, Mark Bates commented:
“A quarter of the incidents that we deal with have some sort of related mental health issues attached. From those calling because they’re lonely or depressed to people threatening to commit suicide. This scheme is about taking action and supporting people at the earliest opportunity. The MHRS will allow us to help those people to get the right response and support at first contact.”
This approach has already been tried and tested in other parts of the UK and has proven successful. Do you think it’s a good idea for the police to work closely with mental health professionals? Should those who may be suffering from depression, addiction or any other condition be supported rather than criminalised or should the punishment be the same regardless of your state of mind? Feel free to share your comments with us on our Facebook page. You can also learn more about mental health at our Knowledge Centre.