Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unintended consequences and crystal balls

In NZ the de-institutionalisation of mentally ill people happened through the late 1980s and into the 1990s. I'm certain that the thinking behind this development was well-intended and not purely economic. There was a conviction that being out in the community was kinder and better for them. And it may be for some. But not all.

Imagine if the powers-that-be could look into a crystal ball and see the consequences  of their good ideas.

The following is a UK initiative but I have no doubt a similar programme would be warranted here: mental health nurses routinely accompanying  police to attend to emergencies.

It's an eminently sensible idea but it's sad to see mentally unwell people reach the point where they come to the attention of the police. That they become a danger to themselves and others. The incidence is obviously reasonably common in the UK and statistics relating to the mental health of our prison population would suggest similarities with British society.

It seems that some at-risk people are left in or to the community until they reach the point where they end up in a far worse institution than hospital or residential care home.

As part of the scheme, mental health nurses will:
  • Support police officers while they are out on patrol
  • Assist officers when they are responding to emergency calls
  • Give advice to staff in police control rooms
The five new police forces that the Department of Health will be working with are:
  • Metropolitan Police
  • British Transport Police
  • West Yorkshire Police
  • West Midlands Police
  • Thames Valley Police

In launching these new pilot sites, Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb said:

Making sure people with mental health problems get the right assessment, care and treatment they need as quickly as possible is really important, especially in emergency situations.
We know that some police forces are already doing an extremely good job of handling circumstances involving mentally ill people but we want this to be the reality everywhere. By providing police forces with the support of health professionals we can give officers the skills they need to treat vulnerable people appropriately in times of crisis.

1 comment:

Viking said...

sooner we deal with the better. Just look at the man accidentally shot last week. Thjere are lots of people who need care and we abandoned them and spent the money on people who can help themselves.
IHC sufferred as did many community groups that ran programs for these people.
Another fail by Labour the party of the people and Ray Smith.