Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has marked World Mental Health Day by hosting a major seminar to raise awareness amongst frontline 'first responders' in the police and other services and promote understanding of mental conditions.
Jane Kennedy joined forces with the Beacon Counselling Trust to arrange the seminar attended by Merseyside Police officers and staff and organisations, including Victim Support, Imagine Independence, Homebird Care and Advanced Solutions.
More than 130 people attended the event, held at Merseyside Police headquarters. Expert therapists trained to support victims of critical incidents, psychological trauma and rape and sexual abuse led the seminar.
Opening the event, Jane described some of the work already being done by Merseyside Police to reduce the number of people with mental health problems who are kept in police custody.
Jane said: “It is a sad fact that 20% of all calls to Merseyside Police are now mental health related. This places a massive strain on our organisation.
“Merseyside Police is working to tackle this problem, including linking up with Mersey Care NHS Trust to provide a team of mental health nurses working at custody suites and the use of a Triage Car for mental health in Liverpool, enabling mental health nurses to work alongside officers to assess individuals in their moment of crisis.
“These initiatives are already saving officers’ time, reducing costs and hospital waiting times but, most importantly, we are trying to ensure that people experiencing mental ill health are given the care and support they need.
“A prison cell is not the right place for anyone suffering a mental health crisis. World Mental Health Day is an opportunity to remind ourselves of that and to remind ourselves to be aware and have some understanding of those who are ill
“Police officers are often the first to respond to a call for help and that's why it is important they are trained in the best ways of providing care and support for people who may be at their lowest ebb.”
Find out more about World Mental Health Day 2014