Members of the public in Hertfordshire who have witnessed – but are not directly involved in – a traumatic event will be given a mental health signpost support card by police officers.
Intervention Inspector Adam Clark came up with the idea after he recognised a gap in the support and guidance available for bystanders to a distressing incident.
The double-sided card – designed in collaboration with the Mental Health in Policing team and the NHS – directs people to the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust’s (HPFT) Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, the online portal for mental health services in Hertfordshire.
The portal provides access to a wide range of confidential talking therapy treatments and practical support for adults with common mental health problems, as well as self-help resources and where to go when experiencing a mental health crisis.
He said: ‘The idea for the cards came about when I was a sergeant in Dacorum after I dealt with a harrowing incident on the A41 just outside Tring, when a vulnerable young woman attempted suicide by falling from the bridge over the carriageway. She survived, but a lot of motorists saw what happened.
‘One lady was so traumatised by what she had witnessed that she hid in undergrowth beside the dual carriageway, and I ended up taking her home to her family to ensure she was okay. However, I did not know where to signpost her for additional help to address the trauma and felt there was more that could be done.’
He added: ‘These new cards will help us deliver an improved service to members of the public working closely with health colleagues.’
Victims and witnesses of crime will be offered a referral to Beacon, commissioned by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire to support victims of crime in the county.