Mental health response scheme

Hope For New Mental Health Response Scheme in Bracknell Forrest

Residents in Bracknell Forest look set to benefit from a new scheme which is being proposed which would see help being provided to those with mental health issues when dealing with the police. The scheme will change the way in which the police deal with issues where mental health is a factor. Berkshire has seen a 40% increase in these incidents, with 40% of them taking place in East Berkshire alone.

Mental health in the UK

Mental health is currently in crisis in the UK, and is getting more and more attention in the news, including being the focus of a Panorama investigation last year. However, there is much positive work taking place too, evident in schemes such as the one currently being looked into by Thames Valley Police.

Following a recent successful pilot in Oxfordshire, Thames Valley Police are proposing a pilot scheme in which those struggling with their mental health will have access to mental health professionals who can provide better assistance when dealing with situations where there is a mental health aspect. Currently, should an individual suffer a mental health disorder publicly and need immediate care, they are taken to a ‘place of safety’, where they can be held for up to 72 hours. Sometimes, the place of safety can be a police cell, which isn’t considered to be the most appropriate place for those suffering from mental health conditions.

How the scheme will work

The pilot scheme in Oxfordshire yielded good results, with a reduction in cost and time spent handling incidents, and a better outcome for those involved. According to the results, there was an increase in the number of incidents resolved without detentions, and those who came into contact with the services discussed in questionnaires said that they felt “listened to and taken seriously.”

The scheme, called the Mental Health Street Triage Pilot, will ensure that:

  • Police would be provided with access to a dedicated mental health professional, five days a week beginning at 5pm and finishing at 1am. A telephone advice line service would be available outside of these hours.
  • Many areas of East Berkshire are covered, including: Maidenhead, Bracknell Forest, Slough and Windsor
  • Telephone advice is also available to those dealing with telephone triage and those working in control rooms.

The estimated savings for the scheme through cutting down detention rates is £144,000.

Hope for improvements in how we approach mental health

Results of the proposals are expected soon, and it is hoped that the scheme will “help police officers make appropriate decisions, ensure people receive support quickly, reduce unnecessary detentions and reduce the use of police cells as a place of safety.”

It is hoped that continued local investment into mental health care, will be able to gradually improve the situation and lead to positive change on a national scale. If you have any concerns about mental health, you can find a range of resources – including symptoms and where to seek help, on the NHS website.