Drawing back to a post I made toward the end of last year, I started to explore (thanks to everyone’s favourite buddy Google), what information I could find about mental health training in the police force.
The papers are filled most days with stories of officers having arrested people who had existing or were subsequently diagnosed with mental health issues but how many police officers are trained to assess the needs of these people without causing any further psychological damage? This applies not only to an arrest, but to any call out they deal with; to the elderly woman who talks to herself on your street to the young quiet guy on your bus who doesn’t make eye contact. How many could recognise symptoms of someone suffering with bipolar disorder or PTSD or boarderline personality disorder? How many could assess whether a person was a danger to themselves or others?
Bizarrely, the first detailed result I found was that of police force of my county and listed below are the number of officers who have taken place in classroom based courses, of the 852 employed by this constabulary:
Autism Awareness – 8
Dementia Friends – 18
Dementia Friends Champion – 2
Mental Capacity Act – 1
Mental Health and Welfare – 261
Place of Safety Training (Mental Health Act) – 24
Grand Total – 314
Whilst these results may not be reflective of all forces, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were similar. Only 37% have had further training in addition to the mandatory training within the initial training programmes and only 30.5% have been trained in Mental Health and Welfare.
Why is this not mandatory? And mandatory annually at that? Why are we not educating as many people as possible about mental health to provide a knowledgable and empathetic system to help people who aren’t having such a great time?
Lets not kid ourselves…the issue of mental health isn’t going to go away, so let’s try and make the best out of a difficult situation and educate, educate, educate.