Improving mental health services

14 May 2015

Police and partners in Norfolk and Suffolk are pledging their
support for a national campaign aimed at raising awareness of
mental health.

The national Mental Health Foundation s annual awareness week
began on Monday 11th May and urges all to be aware of the issues
and challenges facing those suffering with mental ill health.

A wide range of initiatives have been established to improve the
way that public services are tailored to suit individuals with
these needs.

Dedicated teams are in place within both constabularies, which
work to ensure that policing services are appropriately tailored to
meet the needs of vulnerable people, whilst working with
partners.

In May 2014 strategic groups in both counties signed the Mental
Health Crisis Care Concordat, which is a national agreement between
services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in
crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to
make sure that people in crisis receive urgent mental health care. Since then, work has developed in each county and action plans have
been created to outline how services will be improved.

Initiatives have been introduced in both forces which have seen
significant effects on the way that police respond to calls
involving mental health issues.

Within Suffolk, a year-long street triage project was
introduced in April 2014 in partnership with the heath service and
saw mental health nurses join responses officers in Ipswich.

The
project involved a mental health nurse working within a police
response vehicle, seven days a week.

When an incident was reported to the police control room and
highlighted as involving an individual with mental health issues,
the triage vehicle could be deployed, with the nurse accessing the
individual s health records to provide an assessment and guidance
on what action should be taken.

The key objective has been to improve the care and support
provided to people such as these who come into contact with police
and to develop more appropriate pathways other than police
action.

The pilot has been fully analysed and early results are
positive. Work is now underway to examine how the scheme can be
extended across the county.

In Norfolk, a pioneering project, funded by the Police and Crime
Commissioner and the Home Office Police Innovation Fund, was
introduced in March 2014 and saw the introduction of mental health
nurses into the Contact and Control Room (CCR) to help respond to
calls, ensuring that mental health patients receive an appropriate
response.

The nurses, from the Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust (NSFT)
provide immediate access to databases to enable them to make on the
spot professional assessments.

This could involve the use of alternative options rather than
the attendance of a police officer.

The pilot has seen a significant reduction in the number of
section 136 carried out by police officers.

In Norfolk and Suffolk, senior leaders have welcomed the recent
addition of the Criminal Justice Liaison & Diversion Scheme
(CJLD) which has been given vulnerable people in both counties
access to additional support to get their lives back on track
should they be arrested.

The scheme, run by NSFT, Julian Support and military charity
Walking With The Wounded, offers valuable support for people of all
ages who are attending a Police Investigation Centre or magistrates
and crown court and have vulnerabilities such as mental health
issues, learning disabilities, substance misuse or who are
experiencing housing or financial issues.

The year-long trial has been funded with 1.3m from NHS England
and builds on the existing liaison and diversion service which the
Trust has run across Norfolk and Suffolk for many years.

Work is also underway to improve the training and support
available to constabulary staff. Within both forces, a new day-long
training programme has been introduced for frontline officers and
staff to raise awareness of issues around mental health.

This
includes how to recognise the signs of mental health conditions and
how these issues can be perceived and understood.

The joint Occupational Health and Wellbeing department also
works to minimise potential mental ill health issues among officers
and staff. Staff have access to a range of support services
including general or specialist counselling services, to which they
can confidentially self-refer and wellbeing roadshows have been
introduced to provide staff and officers with a range of
information on help available.

This compliments the training and e-learning packages available
to all new entrants and the care in place for those in specialist
roles with daily exposure to work of an emotionally distressing
nature.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Skevington, of Suffolk
Constabulary/ Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Nick Dean, of
Norfolk Constabulary said: “This national awareness week gives us
the opportunity to highlight the work underway in the county to
improve our services.

“As a police service, we come into contact with people suffering
from mental ill health or a mental health crisis on a daily basis. These are vulnerable people who need specific care and it is
essential that along with our partners, we are getting this care
right.

“One way we are doing this, is by bringing together key
representatives from surrounding police services in the eastern
region to share good practice.

“By better working together, creating new initiatives, and
improving the training of our staff, we will improve the support
provided to those who need it, whilst reducing demand on our
resources by ensuring the correct professionals provide the most
appropriate response at the right time.

Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “Protecting
vulnerable people is a crucial element of my Police and Crime Plan
which sets out the policing objectives in Suffolk.

“I welcome the focus that the national awareness week brings to
this very important issue.

“I am totally committed to the Mental Health Concordat.

Working
together is the only way we can help those who suffer from mental
ill health in Suffolk.

“I fully support the work being carried out by the Constabulary
to ensure that vulnerable people in our society are receiving the
policing service that meets their specific needs.

“It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to make
sure we understand the duty of care we have to those who suffer
from mental ill health, so that together we can share the vision of
improved services and make it a part of our every-day work.

Stephen Bett, Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner, said:
“Every year one in four of us will experience a mental health
problem.

I find those statistics staggering but they show the
importance for us as a society to recognise mental health issues as
we might do physical health issues and not to look the other
way.

“Improving support for those with mental health problems remains
a top priority for me as evidenced by the introduction of mental
health nurses into the Norfolk Control Room.

I also fully support
Mental Health Awareness Week; anything that brings the issue into
mainstream discussion is a huge positive.

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