Mental Health Awareness

Campaigning for Mental Health Awareness
Current Campaign - Police - Mental Health Training

I have initiated this campaign as I feel government legislation should be brought in to ensure that all police staff receive training in mental health, specifically mental health first aid.

I have been researching the training which police staff - from station reception officers, to police community support officers, to police constables - receive in relation to mental health. I have found out that police currently receive very little training in mental health awareness and recognition.

It is inevitable that police staff will come across a person with mental health issues at some point during there career. Unpublished research undertaken within the Metropolitan Police suggested that 15% of incidents they dealt with on a daily basis were mental health related.

There are many scenarios in which the police may come across a person with a mental health issue. One of which is in the administration of justice. Up to 90% of prisoners have some form of mental health problem (Singleton et al. 1998), This shows how probable it is that the police will come across someone with a mental health problem.

Another scenario is in relation to the Mental Health Act; where an individual is suspected of having a mental health problem and is in need of immediate care or control, the police can use Section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983 to take the person from a 'public place' to a 'place of safety' for up to 72 hours. Where the person is not in a public place, the police may use Section 135 of the Mental Health Act to gain access to a persons home or property by force following the granting of a court warrant.

The IPCC website states that 'Mental Health is a factor in many of the most serious cases of police misconduct investigated by the IPCC'. This is just further evidence of the necessity for police to be trained in mental health.

As police have been given powers, under the Mental Health Act, to assist people who are in mental distress, and inevitably come into frequent contact with people who have mental health problems, I strongly believe that there should be Government legislation to ensure that police are trained to a sufficient standard in mental health so that they can deal with the situation appropriately and effectively.

Upon researching this issue it seems that the solution to this problem could be if legislation ensures that police receive Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). This is well-known and could be a very valuable learning tool for the police. 'The Mental Health First Aid Initiative represents a useful way of delivering training for the Police and allied agencies - police officers, front desk workers, call centre workers, PCSOs and the Crown Prosecution Service - to understand more about mental health issues, to implement procedures and to engage within communities with local agencies more effectively'.

I have started a petition, , and we will need at least 500 signatures to have any chance of getting a government response so please can you all highlight this website to everyone you know as it will be easier to ask everyone to sign it via here. It will only takes 5 minutes and you could potentially make an immense difference to the lives of many people who are suffering from mental health problems and who come into contact with unhelpful, untrained, police staff.
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