Police Left 'Picking Up The Pieces' Of The Country's Mental Health System

Police forces across the country are receiving thousands of calls a year from people struggling with their mental health.

According to a new report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Service, officers in England and Wales are 'picking up the pieces' of a broken mental health system in the country.

Last year just five people alone made an incredible 8,655 calls to the Metropolitan Police, which cost £70,000 ($89,100) to answer.

Figures also showed that half of those who call the emergency services in a state of mental distress are taken to safety in a police car and NOT an ambulance.

And alongside rail workers, police stopped 1,837 people from committing suicide on the rail network.

According to the report, 42 of the 43 forces in the country have set up 'street triage' teams which are now equipped to respond to specific situations and get people the help they need.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoë Billingham told the BBC that police are clearly doing a good job and definitely have a role to play, but said they are 'over-stretched' and 'overwhelmed' and the current system is 'failing people'.

She said: "Police officers naturally want to respond and do their best to support vulnerable people when they ask for help. And we found that police officers respond to those with mental health problems with care and compassion.

"But we cannot expect the police to pick up the pieces of a broken mental health system. Over-stretched and all-too-often overwhelmed police officers can't always respond appropriately, and people in mental health crisis don't always get the help they need.

"People in crisis with mental health problems need expert support - support that can't be carried out in the back of a police car or by locking them into a police cell.

She added: "All too often, the system is failing people when they most need help. This is not a problem that the police alone can solve. Other services need to stop relying on the 24/7 availability of the police.

"We have grave concerns about whether the police should be involved in responding to mental health problems to the degree they are. Fundamental change is needed urgently in the way those with mental health problems are supported by the state. The police should be the last resort, not the first port of call."

In 2016 LADbible launched the UOKM8? campaign, to encourage men who are struggling to cope to talk to someone, whether that be to a friend, a family member or a professional.

Two years on, there has been an incredible amount of progress - but last year, 5,821 people took their own lives, and with doctors, nurses, and police all struggling, there is still much more work to be done.

But whether you are male or female, an adult or a child, there are people you can talk to, and who are there for you when you need them most.

Where can I go if I'm in need? Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do:

MIND: 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans: 116 123.

CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.

Mental Health Foundation.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Dominic Smithers

After graduating from Leeds University with a degree in French and History, Dom went onto gain an NCTJ journalism qualification. Since then he has worked as a reporter at the Manchester Evening News and the Macclesfield Express, covering breaking news, court, sports, and politics.

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