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Hertfordshire residents in mental health crisis receive more support

1 Nov 2019
  • An innovative project to help people with long-term mental health problems who frequently come to the attention of the emergency services is now running in Hertfordshire.

  • The idea is to try and help people deal with long-term issues effectively involving a number of specialist agencies to help resolve deep-rooted and complex problems. 

  • Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) is a model of care developed by the High Intensity Network and supported by NHS England. 

An innovative project to help people with long-term mental health problems who frequently come to the attention of the emergency services is now running in Hertfordshire.

Detective Inspector Tom Leeks from the Mental Health and Policing team (Herts Police) explained: “Police and NHS professionals are working together to mentor those individuals who put the most demand on the emergency services. This is to ensure that they are correctly supported, behaviours managed and instances of crises demand are significantly mitigated.”

He continued: “The idea is to try and help people deal with long-term issues effectively involving a number of specialist agencies to help resolve deep-rooted and complex problems. Sometimes people experiencing mental health problems see no way out and so the issues escalate until it becomes an emergency. Our main concern is to help the person to find safer ways of dealing with their crises, help stop their repetitive behaviours and help them turn their lives around.”

Serenity Integrated Mentoring (SIM) is a model of care developed by the High Intensity Network and supported by NHS England. It now operates in over 15 NHS trusts across the country with further teams planned in the near future. NHS and police staff in Hertfordshire have completed their training and SIM is now being piloted with patients in St Albans and Hemel Hempstead.

From April 2018 to March 2019, the police power to detain a person under section 136 of the Mental Health Act was used 752 times for 603 patients – 84 patients were detained two or more times. DI Leeks said: “This means that 31 per cent of all section 136 detentions were for repeat patients. Effective management of repetitive behaviours has been shown to markedly improved outcomes for the patients and improve safety. In turn, this change could significantly reduce some of the pressure on the emergency services.”

The already established Mental Health Triage car continues to deliver effective support to each policing district, and includes a mental health nurse who is available to attend incidents and advise officers about all matters concerning mental health including when it is appropriate to section someone for their own safety.

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