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Meet the team on the front-line of mental health care in Notts

February 11, 2020
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A team which sees police and mental health professionals working side-by-side to respond to calls from members of the public who are experiencing a mental health crisis will be showcased to the nation in the latest episode of a Channel 4 documentary this evening (Tuesday 11 February 2020).

The joint mental health street triage team are a team of specially trained Nottinghamshire Police officers and Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust mental health professionals who respond to police incidents when members of the public are experiencing a mental health crisis.

The team’s involvement in the programme will complement the wider series – entitled ‘Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency’ – which explores the complex decision-making that surrounds patients living with mental health conditions.

The first episode of the four-part series was broadcast on Tuesday 21 January, with PC Richard Boam from Nottinghamshire Police and Linda Pert, a Community Mental Health Nurse, featuring in episode four of the series which is due to be broadcast at 10pm on Tuesday 11 February.

Both PC Boam and Linda agree that the subject of mental health is one that is well-deserving of the national attention it has received, thanks to the new series.

PC Rich Boam said: “Being involved in the documentary was completely different to anything else I’ve ever done before but it was enjoyable.

“The episodes I’ve watched so far have been really impactful and seem to have been really well-received by the public, particularly as it gives them an insight into the reality of what mental healthcare looks like in 2020.

“Mental health is generally talked about much more these days and it’s a topic that’s entering more and more in the public conscience as a result. That has been really helpful in raising the profile of mental health and in showing the range of services that are in-place to support people who are living with a mental health condition.”

PC Boam and Linda are part of the joint mental health street triage team which was setup in 2014 to provide a more integrated response to calls to police about mental health emergencies and help reduce the number of people living with mental health issues being unnecessarily held in police custody for their own safety.

The innovative approach sees three teams working across Nottinghamshire, with each crew made up of a psychiatric nurse who works alongside officers in a marked police vehicle to provide a more coordinated response to police incidents where members of the public are experiencing a mental health crisis.

As they attend each incident, the nurse will carry out an initial ‘triage’ assessment before recommending the most appropriate response.

By working together, the team are able to direct patients who are experiencing a mental health crisis to more appropriate ongoing support, which avoids having to unnecessarily detain people in police custody for the safety of themselves and others under Section 136 of the Mental Health Act.

That joint approach has meant that not a single person has been detained in police custody for that reason in over a year, after numbers peaked at 321 people being detained between April 2013 and April 2014.

Linda joined the street triage team after working as a nurse at a high security hospital and she believes that the team’s approach is helping to better support members of the public who are experiencing a mental health crisis.

“I remember reading about the team’s work here and thinking it was a good idea,” Linda said. “I’d never really thought the police had much to do with cases involving mental health, but working alongside them means we are able to get out to people when and when they need us at what is a really critical time in their lives.

“There is a personal story behind each and every case we deal with and each one can be complex, so getting the right care at the right time is absolutely crucial and our help can genuinely change someone’s future.”

Since its launch in 2014, the joint mental health street triage team has dealt with over 24,000 incidents and has supported over 4,700 individuals to receive further support.

The team recently increased its operating hours to provide 17 hours’ coverage across Nottinghamshire each day – a decision that has helped to increase the number of people the team are able to support each and every day.

Episode four of ‘Losing It: Our Mental Health Emergency’ is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 at 10pm on Tuesday 11 February.

Image caption: PC Rich Boam and Linda Pert, Community Mental Health Nurse for Nottinghamshire Heathcare, from the Street Triage Team who will be appearing in episode four of the series.

Need support with your mental health?

For support with your mental health, please contact your GP or, if you are already receiving support, please contact your key worker. For more information about who to contact, please visit the Nottinghamshire Healthcare website.

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