Commissioner raises awareness this World Mental Health Day


Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has marked World Mental Health Day by hosting a seminar for key partners to increase understanding of the police’s multi-agency work to support people in crisis.

Emily Spurrell joined forces with the St Helens Hope Centre to arrange the seminar attended by representatives from St Helens and Knowsley Councils, the Department of Work and Pensions, the YMCA and Torus Housing.

Th Commissioner, who is the joint national lead for mental health and custody on behalf of all PCCs nationally, hosted the seminar not only to encourage awareness and understanding, but also engage with partners to see how agencies can intervene earlier to support those in need.

The seminar detailed the Commissioner’s focus on supporting the police and criminal justice partners to prevent offending, by providing enhanced support for those suffering from mental ill health.

It gave attendees an overview of the main causes of mental ill health, the four main conditions and how Merseyside Police works with partners to respond in the best possible way to those who are suffering, in particular through the mental health triage car, which sees a mental health nurse joining response officers to attend a scene to support an individual in crisis, as well the provision of mental health nurses in police custody suites.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: “This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’ and it couldn’t be more relevant.

“We know the impact the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns had on many people’s mental well-being, and the current cost-of-living crisis is sadly likely to exacerbate the issues our communities face.

“That’s why it is so important we check up on friends, family and colleagues and encourage a culture of openness when talking about mental health. It’s also vital we look for ways to step in earlier to provide support for those who may be struggling.

“I’ve made intervening early to stop people in mental ill health becoming criminalised a priority in my Police and Crime Plan for the region. Merseyside is Police is recognised nationally as a leader in this field, thanks in particular to its mental health triage team and its excellent partnership work with Merseyside NHS Criminal Justice Liaison partners.

“These initiatives are really effective in saving officers’ time, reducing costs and hospital waiting times but, most importantly, ensuring that people experiencing mental ill health are given the care and support they need.

“The sad reality is that nationally it’s estimated 40% of police officers’ time is spent responding to mental health issues. This places a huge demand on our police service and reduces the time that officers can spend preventing and tackling crime. These calls often don't appear in the crime statistics, but nonetheless the police will always respond.

“I’m committed to supporting the police’s work wherever possible. Key to this is engaging with partners to look for innovative ways to prevent individuals reaching that point of crisis - engaging with other organisations to see how we can intervene earlier and more effectively.

“This World Mental Health seminar was a great opportunity to raise awareness among our partners and see how we can work together to support the most vulnerable in our communities and I thank everyone who showed their support by attending. By working together, we can improve the understanding and care for people who may be at their lowest ebb and ensure they get the help and support they deserve.”