Police in Hertfordshire are supporting Mental Health Awareness Week at a time when more people may be suffering increased anxiety and stress.
Every day police officers come into contact with people in mental health crisis. The force works with partners in the health and emergency services in Hertfordshire to make sure those people receive the most appropriate care.
It is likely that coronavirus and the associated social distancing measures may well be affecting many people’s mental wellbeing. The force has seen an increase in mental health-related incidents over recent weeks, highlighting the importance of letting people know where to access help and support.
The national awareness week starts on Monday 18 May and has the theme of kindness. The force will be sharing messages on social media throughout the week using the nationally-recognised hashtags #kindnessmatters and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.
Detective Inspector Jo Briggs, who leads Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Mental Health and Policing team, said: ‘As a force, we are often dealing with members of the public at their most vulnerable. We work in partnership with mental health services to make sure no-one is unnecessarily detained under the Mental Health Act and so mental health issues do not go undiagnosed in custody.’
The force operates a triage vehicle with mental health services that attends reports to the police involving people in mental health crisis. Its role is to make sure those people receive appropriate care.
Police officers also receive training about mental health issues so they can help refer people to the correct partner agencies.
DI Briggs also heads up the Safeguarding Adults from Abuse (SAFA) Unit which investigates crimes committed against vulnerable adults by people in a position of trust. This could include people with more severe mental health issues and their carers.
DI Briggs added: ‘The force takes mental health seriously and has invested in specialist resources to protect people who are vulnerable because of it. We will help them access the most appropriate care and support, while also bringing to justice anyone who tries to abuse someone because of their vulnerability.
‘The week of awareness comes at an appropriate time and we will be sharing information on social media about our work and helping people find support by sharing useful links.’
There are many ways people can help reduce their anxiety levels before they become too much. Useful websites include the Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, hpft.nhs.uk, anxiety.org.uk, www.calmzone.net and www.stressbusting.co.uk.