New police approach to mental health

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A new innovative pilot partnership to tackle emergency incidents involving people with mental health issues has been rolled out across Lancashire.

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 company with dedicated NHS mental health nurses who can make assessments and referrals.

This will mean that people can get appropriate medical attention on the spot rather than being taken to police custody or the hospital. In addition, from August, mental health nurses will also work within the force control room where 999 calls are answered, monitoring calls and offering advice to those reporting mental health related matters.

Lancashire Constabulary’s Force Lead for Early Action, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Bates said: “A quarter of the incidents that we deal with have some sort of related mental health issues attached, from those calling because they are 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 new approach has already proved successful in other parts of the country. It has been funded by Blackburn with Darwen and Chorley and South Ribble Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) and the police innovation fund (PIF). Lancashire Care Foundation Trust are providing the mental health nurses.