A scheme being trialled nationwide has been successfully dealing with mental health problems on the street.

Nurses are teaming up with local police forces to create ‘street triages’ which involves pairing police with a mental health nurse on the road to provide a rapid response to disturbances where mental health is believed to be an issue.

The aim was to reduce Section 136 detentions (when the patient is detained for their own safety) by better understanding the background to the disturbances and seeking the advice of a mental health professional at the scene. And it seems to be working!

North Yorkshire’s Cleveland Police launched the scheme in 2012 and within a year Section 136 arrests had plummeted: out of 371 callouts, only 12 people were admitted for psychiatric care.

In January 2013 Leicestershire Police and Leicestershire Partnership Trust introduced a street triage, and by the end of that year, Leicestershire Constabulary reported arrests made under Section 136 had dropped by 33%, thanks to the immediate care and guidance available.

Other areas such as London, Dorset and Derbyshire have taken up the scheme. However, there are now concerns that a lack of organisation could prevent street triages thriving nationally.

For example, it cannot always be agreed where the street triages should be based. At a hospital? The police station? Funding provides a sticking point too, with police, health and social services not always able to agree on how to combine their budgets. In fact, lack of police resources was blamed for the announcement in June that Kent was axing its own street triage service – despite Section 136 arrests falling by 30%.

Nevertheless, the scheme is roundly judged to be a nationwide success. If future agreements can be reached on funding and organisation then our communities have a lot to gain.

Does your area run a street triage service? Have you or somebody you know worked as a mobile mental health nurse? Tell us your experiences at marketing@athona.com.

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