There has been a new push for police officers to receive mental health training to improve how they handle individuals with psychiatric conditions. Mental health has been in the news lately, with the BBC recently reporting an increase in the number of schoolchildren being diagnosed for mental health conditions and the allocation of £1.25bn to help treat conditions in the NHS.
Handling patients with serious psychiatric conditions can be sometimes be fraught with difficulty, especially if they have committed a crime or been involved with the law in some way. This area of healthcare in the UK is called Forensic Care (not to be confused with forensic medicine, which is a separate discipline). Individuals with serious mental health conditions may have been arrested, be in custody or tried in the courts. They may be referred to secure mental health units for treatment to help with their conditions, with the aim of eventually being released back into the community.
The West Mercia and Warwickshire Police, however, is aiming to improve training for their officers. The force has recently published their plans for handling those individuals detained under the Mental Health Act. It signed up to the Mental Health Crisis Concordat – a UK-wide agreement bringing together a range of services and bodies to help those in need – for the Warwickshire and West Mercia areas last year.
The plans put into place are a step in the right direction, giving a clear indication of how officers will be able to handle situations involving vulnerable groups of individuals.