New health service set up under police auspices

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A NEW service aimed at helping people with mental health problems in North Yorkshire has been launched by the area’s Polce and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

The initiative, launched by Julia Mulligan, follows a three-month pilot under which mental health professionals from Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust work within North Yorkshire Police’s force control room, helping to field calls involving people in mental distress.

Early indications suggest the pilot is proving such a success that Julia has now decided to extend it from a four day-a-week operation (Thursday 11am until Sunday 11 pm) to one that operates every day of the week.

The improved service, costing £168,000 and funded by PCC’s office, will mean specialist mental health provision will be available to those in mental distress across the county, including people in rural areas. It be up and running this spring and is in addition to the street triage service which is available in some parts of North Yorkshire.

The force control room triage service involves highly trained mental health nurses working alongside call handlers. The mental health professionals can step in with advice and support during incidents involving mentally vulnerable people. As they have access to local NHS databases they can check whether people are receiving treatment for a mental health condition.

Ms Mulligan said: “The amount of police time spent dealing with vulnerable people in mental distress is estimated to be around 40 per cent, so this scheme should go a long way in improving the service available to this group of people.

“When someone is suffering mental health problems, their distress can be heightened by coming into contact with the police. While police staff and officers do a very good job in dealing with these people, they are not mental health specialists and are not always able to respond as they would like for the individual concerned.

Gill Boycott, head of adult mental health services in York and Selby for Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, said; “It’s important that people with mental health problems get the care and support they need as quickly as possible. The extension of the pilot is great news and we look forward to continuing to work with the police to improve services for local people.”