A scheme to help police and the NHS support sufferers of mental health problems has been rolled out across Greater Manchester.
Supported by Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, the mental health triage scheme gives police officers 24 hour telephone contact with specialist mental health teams. This means officers attending an incident that potentially involves a person suffering from a mental illness can ring the triage number for information to allow the officers to direct the individual involved to the most appropriate service on attendance.
Traditionally officers make a decision based on their own assessment but have now been provided with a mobile number that will put them directly through to mental health specialists who can offer advice, support and update them on whether the person being dealt with is known to the health service.
Following its launch in Oldham in December last year, the service has resulted in quicker assessments for people suffering a mental health crisis and a reduction in officer time spent dealing with people with mental health problems.
Crucially, the service means people suffering a mental health crisis are getting the support they need more quickly and are being looked after by a healthcare professional – not by a police officer and not in a police cell.
Tony said: “We need to make sure that the vulnerable people in our community get the care and support they need and this scheme is enabling that. It’s clear the scheme is having a positive impact, not just on reducing demands on policing, but more importantly improving how people suffering from a mental health crisis are treated. This is an example of genuine partnership working and it’s great to see it rolled out across Greater Manchester.”
The triage scheme is one of a number of steps police, councils, NHS and other agencies are taking to improve mental health services across Greater Manchester and reduce demands on policing and agencies came together on Thursday 9 October, at an event organised by Tony Lloyd and New Economy, to look at what’s been done over the last year and develop further ways of working together to tackle mental health issues.
Tony added: “People suffering mental health problems deserve the best service and the only way to achieve that is for the police, NHS and other agencies to pool resources and work together. The Oldham triage pilot is just one example of this and this event was an opportunity to share what’s been done over the last year, but also continue to drive forward innovative ways to address this difficult issue and provide the best service for vulnerable people across Greater Manchester.”
David Wilkinson, Strategic Lead for Mental Health, Greater Manchester Police, said: “We have to work in partnership to ensure people suffering from mental health problems and their carers receive the most appropriate service when they need it.
“GMP has been working closely with mental health specialists across Greater Manchester to provide training to officers so they know how to deal with people suffering a mental health crisis, to support those individuals and treat them with respect. Officers also have access to mental health teams 24 hours a day, seven days a week so that people can get the help they need much quicker and the demands on police officer time is reduced.”