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Mental health triage scheme recognised internationally

A specialist emergency response unit which offers immediate assessments to suspected mental health sufferers in the West Midlands has been recognised internationally - after counterparts from Australia visited the region to learn about best practice.

The Mental Health Triage scheme sees West Midlands Police officers joined by psychiatric nurses and paramedics to attend calls from people who are believed to be suffering from mental ill health.

The successful police and NHS partnership means patients get on-the-spot assessments at their home or on the street and can be taken to safe health facilities for the support they need rather than held in police custody.

No-one detained by police under the Mental Health Act has been taken to a police cell in the last two years which has helped to reduce the strain on police resources.

WMP

A pilot project was launched in Birmingham in 2014 and the scheme has since been extended into the Black Country and Coventry. 

The success of the approach has been recognised across the world with Australian Federal Police and health officials from Down Under visiting Birmingham this week to tap into the expertise of how it works.

Sergeant Lewis Cook, from the Mental Health Triage team, said: “Mental health affects one in four people each year and by working together with other agencies we help to deliver the best care to vulnerable members of the public while reducing the strain on police resources. 

"We are considered to be a beacon of good practice both nationally and internationally, and the only truly co-located , tri-service model currently in operation. 

"The team from Australia are considering replicating our model and wanted to get some first-hand experience of how we do things. They seemed impressed by how we operate and it was good to be able to share advice which may help others in another country."