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World Mental Health Day

News   •   Oct 10, 2019 06:00 BST

Superintendent Mark Lawrence, the Met’s Mental Health Lead, said:

“Today, 10 October, is World Mental Health Day. Mental ill health affects around two million Londoners and while it is predominantly a health issue, it is inevitable that mental health will have a significant impact on policing in the capital.

“We are often the first step into the crisis care system and we have an important role to protect people. There will be times when we are needed and times when we should step off the pathway and let other agencies take over.

“As Lead Responsible Officer for mental health I am pleased to see significant investment in mental health for the NHS with a focus on crisis care, community treatment and children and young people. I am working with strategic health partners across London to provide a policing input on how these funds are invested and I am hopeful that these will reduce demands on policing in the longer term.

“Here and now, the Met remains dedicated to improving the experience of those living with mental ill health when they come into contact with the police, as well as ensuring mentally unwell people in London get the right intervention from the right agency at the right time. I’m acutely aware of the current challenges in securing mental health beds and I am working with mental health trusts across London to improve escalation processes and access to advice from mental health professionals.

“We have come a long way in the last year. We now have mental health teams operating in every Basic Command Unit (BCU) in London. We’ve delivered a one-day mental health course to nearly 5,000 frontline officers with those numbers set to double by the end of March 2020. Feedback has been excellent with well over 80 per cent of participants saying it was a good use of their time and training they would recommend to others.

“I am equally proud of our progress on Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) London. SIM is a model that creates teams of police officers and mental health nurses to work closely with high intensity, high frequency service users who come to our notice in mental health crisis most often. The role of the police officer is to set standards for behaviour and to write ‘response plans’ to inform first responders on appropriate action to be taken when service users are in crisis.

“We are already seeing reductions in Section 136 detentions and cost. We aim to have SIM live across every borough in London by the end of the financial year. I am also pleased to announce that SIM London won the award for Partnership of the Year at the recent Health Innovation Network Awards.

“We also know as police officers that we need to look after ourselves and each other. As a Blue Light Champion, (BLC) and a member of the BLC Steering Group, I am delighted to see that we are closing in on the significant milestone of having trained 1,000 BLCs. That will be 1,000 colleagues committed to challenging stigma and supporting all Met officers and staff to live happy and healthy lives. We know it is time for all of us to look after each other and look after own wellbeing. It’s good to talk.

“The focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day is suicide prevention. I would like to finish by highlighting an online suicide prevention training package from the Zero Suicide Alliance. It really is worth the investment of 20 minutes of your time. It may save a life.”