A lot done, a lot still to do on mental health issues in North Yorkshire
The message comes from North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan who has made supporting vulnerable people with mental health concerns one of her priorities. The police service currently estimates that up to 40 per cent of calls for service involve some form of mental health concern, including people in real crisis.
Over the past few years, Julia has chosen to invest in the following projects:
- Mental health nurses in the North Yorkshire Police Control Room – to provide support to the public and advice to the police
- Street triage services in Scarborough, York and Selby – where mental health nurses work with the police to assess a person’s needs during call outs
- The York Pathways programme – which supports people who come into contact with emergency and other services on a very frequent basis. It has significantly reduced demand on all services and is helping some of the city’s most vulnerable people live more independently.
- Connect York – a £1m research and training programme with the University of York to help the police understand and support people with mental ill-health.
Another key improvement has been the introduction of four health-based Section 136 suites across the area, which Julia has championed since November 2012. As alternatives to police custody, these facilities provide medical support for people detained under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act and avoid people in real distress being treated like criminals.
The Commissioner continues to call on local health providers to keep these essential suites open. Since January 2017, it has been illegal to take Section 136 patients to police custody, unless absolutely necessary. Julia Mulligan is therefore hugely concerned that two of the four North Yorkshire suites (Harrogate and Northallerton) are currently threatened with closure.
Last week, she wrote to Nigel Adams MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, to express her concerns, calling for the facilities to remain open and is also making the case with Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price who has today been given specific responsibility for work on suicide prevention.
North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan says she believes this is an example of where we need to build on the progress, address the challenges that remain and not move backwards on this important issue:
“World Mental Health Day is a chance for us to put the spotlight on the work being done to tackle mental health issues across North Yorkshire. It is positive that people are more willing to talk about mental health and I am confident the investment in care and support is making a difference, but no one should be under any illusion that challenges remain.
“Providing support to those individuals who need it, and the public bodies that care for them, will always be something that no one organisation can achieve alone. We need to build partnerships that work, and ensure every public leader recognises the impact that their decisions have on the wider efforts to ensure we don’t go backwards and continue to improve support for very vulnerable people here in North Yorkshire and the City of York.”