Merseyside Police and the Police Commissioner are supporting this year’s Liverpool Mental Health Festival, which includes a major event in the city today.
The Liverpool Mental Health Festival, which includes World Mental Health Day on 10 October, has been set up with the aim of reducing stigma and improving access to mental health services in Liverpool and will include 50 free events from 1st to 16th Oct including an art exhibition, writing competition and festival in Williamson Square.
Police officers and staff from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner will be staffing a stall at the festival today (Saturday, 8 October) and are encouraging people to come down for a day of performance, creativity, wellbeing and advice (10am – 5pm).
Merseyside Police has also recently received approval from the mental health charity Mind to sign up to the Blue Light Services ‘Time to Change Pledge’. The pledge demonstrates the force’s commitment to help look after our own staff and our customers who are experiencing poor mental health. The pledge is a growing movement of more than 350 employers in England who are working to tackle mental health stigma.
The force recognises how important it is to talk about mental health issues and to recognise the signs, both in ourselves and in others, and most importantly know what to do about it.
Detective Superintendent Natalie Perischine, force lead for mental health said: “Mental health is everyone’s business and as a police force we have a duty to the public to ensure our officers are able to provide the best possible service to those suffering from mental health issues.
“Our officers frequently come into contact with people who may have mental health issues – the safety and wellbeing of people believed to have mental health issues is paramount, and we need to continue to work together to continue to improve the way we respond to the most vulnerable in society.”
She added: “Our own police officers and staff work in difficult, challenging and often distressing situations and it is important to be able to talk about and recognise the signs of mental health symptoms, both in ourselves and in others.
"Working in partnership with our emergency service colleagues within the force, we hope the new pledge will allow officers and staff to share experiences and better act upon these issues. We are committed to helping our officers and staff wherever we can by supporting them in this important area.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “It is a sad fact that more than 20% of all calls for assistance to Merseyside Police have mental health as the cause. These calls often don't appear in the crime statistics, but nonetheless the police will always respond.
“Liverpool Mental Health Festival, which is held to mark World Mental Health Day, is an opportunity to raise awareness of mental health issues, promote the help and support services that are available and bring this often hidden subject into the open.
“It is vital that people suffering from mental ill health get the right support and care, at the right time and in the right place. I work closely with the force and our partners to ensure this is happening and I am pleased to say we are doing this effectively on Merseyside.
“There is always more that can be done though, and this festival is a chance for us to continue that conversation so we can further improve the services on offer to people in need.”
Festival Co-ordinator, Claire Stevens (Liverpool Mental Health Consortium) said “We’re delighted that Merseyside Police are such great supporters of the festival and are working so closely in partnership with local mental health services, service users and carers to challenge stigma and change attitudes.”
For more information on this year’s Liverpool Mental Health Festival, you can follow @liverpoolmhc and find the whole programme at http://www.liverpoolmentalhealth.org/festival/
Image: Members of the Commissioner's Youth Advisory Group and her Community Engagement Officer Mike Berry at last year's Liverpool Mental Health Festival