I am a frontline police officer with a severe and enduring interest in the interface of policing, mental health and criminal justice, blogging in a personal capacity. I’ve had more than my fair share of policing & mental health incidents on the frontline of British policing and continue to get them as an operational supervisor, including as an accredited public order and firearms commander.
It was the overwhelming feeling when I joined of not knowing what on earth I was doing, that got me asking questions about this stuff. I asked them of other police officers, including supervisors, but it emerged they often knew little of use. I have made it my business to spend time with psychiatrists including forensic psychiatrists, A&E doctors, paramedics as well as mental health nurses and AMHPs (or ASWs as they were then known) how we should operate in this area of policing. Anyone who would stand still long enough and talk to me, quite honestly.
I eventually found out that there are no simple answers and no-one was particularly working on policing and mental health. I had triangulate a multitude of opinions and form my own, accepting from the start that once I felt confident enought to begin expressing views, I would meet just some people who were prepared to die in a ditch before they would ever agree – even though I was trying my best to understand laws or guidelines and was representing back opinions from people who do their job. When you point this out – that other people who do their job disagree with them about the issue in hand – and that they are contradicted by their own guidance, you’ll be patronised and talked down to: what do the police know about mental health, after all?!
You’ll then start to understand the kind of paradigm we’ve constructed! There are some quite amazing health and social care professionals out there who will tell you that you were heading along the right lines in what you thought you’d read or heard – you eventually start to wonder what on earth has been going on?!
I decided at the start not to do this anonymously, taking the view that we should be openly trying to discuss the difficult issues we see at the interface between policing and mental health. Originally, I used to point people towards Chief Constable Simon COLE of Leicestershire Police for that – he was the national lead for the service on these issues. However, since beginning, this blog and my social media efforts more generally saw me seconded from West Midlands Police to the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs’ Council, as their mental health coordinators. I’ve since been involved in producing national policy for the police service, largely based on this blog and I then worked for Commander Christine Jones QPM (retired) and then Chief Constable Mark COLLINS QPM (retired) of Dyfed-Powys Police who were the national leads, aiming to ensure progress is made on implementing this.
The current lead is Deputy Chief Constable Rachel Bacon of South Wales Police.
I’m interested the criminalisation of mental health issues and then extent to which we’ve expanded the role of the police as a de facto crisis service. I’m interested in ensuring that operational cops with their 6-8hrs of mental health training, can survive legal contact with this extremely complex business and do their best for patients and vulnerable people. Through this blog, I want to try and get police officers and health / social care staff talking to each other. It is years of doing just this in my own area that has brought me to a position where I feel more confident in knowing what to do, along with reading a lot of law and guidance.
- Email on – email@example.com
Winner of the President’s Medal,
the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award
All views expressed are my own – they do not represent the views of any organisation.
(c) Michael Brown, 2022
I try to keep this blog up to date, but inevitably over time, amendments to the law as well as court rulings and other findings from inquests and complaints processes mean it is difficult to ensure all the articles and pages remain current. Please ensure you check all legal issues in particular and take appropriate professional advice where necessary.
Government legislation website – http://www.legislation.gov.uk
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Brilliant blog, something I’m passionate about too….
Thanks. Your time taken to say so, is much appreciated.
No probs 🙂
Great read, MH care in the UK is a real concern. As a frontline bobby I see how we have to clean up the mess of years of poor policy and under funding. The city I work has three MH units, all under staffed and over full. We spend a LOT of time trying to deal with people who need help, not locking up.
Hi MHC, good blog, interesting read and a much overlooked subject that we never really get to grips with. I knew a skipper (now guvnor and one of the best in the job) who did a lot to sort out the MH unit at my old nick, we need more like her, and you
Excellent blog on vital subject. Have you ever done mental health first aid (MHFA) qualification? It was offered for a very brief window by my force, and is the single most useful course I’ve ever attended…
Thanks – have heard of but not done in; force wouldn’t fund it. Good feedback, but admit I have heard mixed reviews about value for police officers. A friend in another force is an MHFA trainer, thinks it excellent.
Well dont forget that I am now a MHFA trainer and would consider providing a course for not too much!
I think the main problem on the street is that we deal with so many people who present as being mentally ill but fall between the cracks.
By this I mean those who act in a manner that is clearly indicative of mental health problems that are likely to pose risk to themselves or others.
So what do we do? Well we spend hours waiting for them to be assessed only to be told “Fred isn’t presenting with a treatable mental disorder. It’s behavioural”
Fine, I understand that if something isn’t treatable then you can’t treat it. Rather like a terminal disease. You can’t make it better.
But then these people are allowed to go on their way behaving as before and the problem continues.
We don’t deal with other chronic diseases by ignoring them so why does the mental health machinery constantly fail to address the issues that these people display, suffer from and inflict on others?
Depends who you’re asking. A most fascinating aspect of the work I’ve done on this stuff, has been the informal conversations with various professionals. Like the Cambridge Uni professor (of psychiatry) who said, “You do realise schizophrenia’s not a disease?” adn the clincal psychologist who said, “this stuff is all psychology and we’re just pumping people full of drugs making things worse.”
Some have been kind enough to give me books to read and bought me coffee: I remain utterly convinced that the ongoing nature / nurture debate totally undermines the integrity of our current responses to mental illness. For that reason, plus chronic under-resourcing, people will keep coming to police attention in circumstances where if they are not treatable, you’ll have to judge each case on it’s merits for criminal justice sancations where this is necessary to keep the public safe.
The Strangeways prison documentary was very revealing of how it’s determined whether a person is ‘ill’ and therefore not responsible for their actions or had a ‘PD’ and therefore responsible for their actions. It came down to whether the prisoners behavior was sustained or not! Not sure responsibility for actions can be determined by diagnosis alone but it’s contradictory when it comes to people given a PD diagnosis. On the one hand they are viewed as untreatable [despite any PC rhetoric] and are the lepers of the health service often receiving very poor treatment [or no support], but it’s as though psychiatry cannot make up it’s mind as to whether PD is bad or mad. On the one hand they say mad [but not an illness] yet there are plans to move more people with that diagnosis out of the high secure hospitals to prisons – this would indicate not mad. Then the waters muddied further by the suggestion of PD units within prison, so mad/bad at the same time?
Dangerous and Severe Personality Disorder never came from the psychiatric profession [although forensic services happily took to that particular duck like water], that was a Home Office definition. Psychiatric slang and diagnoses are often used by politicians and the media in order to add greater heinousness to a crime, so the convicted offender of a violent crime ends up described as psychopathic [the predecessor to PD] or psychotic. It’s also a way of ‘othering’ the person and to make sense of their crimes. I remember when Bin Laden was referred to as psychotic – don’t remember him ever being diagnosed as such and he was far too organised. Most people who end up with a diagnosis of psychosis are simply not organised enough to mastermind world wide crime. It all comes down to – subjective opinion – there’s no psychiatric SOCO which can produce DNA evidence of a diagnosis.
I’d like to say something of my positive experiences of the police in relation to mental health.
A&E sent out 2 officers to my home because after treatment for self-harm I refused a psychiatric assessment. These officers called twice, first time I didn’t answer, second time I’d forgotten and put the light on so I thought I’d have to answer as they could clearly see I was in. I tentatively opened the door fearing all sorts but they had removed their hats, turned down their radio’s and spoke to me quietly, politely, and made no attempt to move too close towards the doorway. They asked me if I was scared of them and I said ‘yes, because you have the power to take me away’. They told me I hadn’t finished my treatment, I explained that I had but had chosen not to do the psychiatric assessment and explained why. They listened to me and made their own decision.
One of them even asked if I needed any milk.
Another occasion – a mate had absconded from a s3 and I ended up on the phone. The phone was passed through her letterbox and I talked with her. I asked them to keep everything as quiet as possible and to wait until I arrived. My friend let me in, we talked and then I talked to the officers. I accompanied her with them back to the hospital and they gave me a lift home afterwards. It’s never nice being returned to hospital when you don’t want to be there, but those officers at least took a bit of time [and followed every suggestion I made] to make that less painful for her.
Once I saw uniformed officers attend a conference of mainly service users and they deliberately wore their uniforms so that delegates knew who they were. Lots of people wanted to talk with them and really appreciated their presence and desire to learn more from service users perspectives. We need more of that and it doesn’t have to be a conference, just informal sessions where officers and people with first hand experience can get together and talk about what helps/hinders.
You’re doing a great job, I just wanted to tell you that.
All my experiences of police when mentally ill have been above & beyond what I ever would have expected, in terms of how nice & sensitive & understanding they have been. Several years ago, I was very psychotically ill & tried to take my own life at a train station, the police came and talked me out of it, sat with me for a cup of tea in the station, asked me all about my life and talked about Harry Potter (!) & generally distracted me from my feelings, then called an ambulance & together returned me to the psychiatric ward I was a patient on. I couldn’t have asked for better care.
I think it’s so important that you’re doing this, creating awareness and information for those who may not be as clued-up about mental health as yourself. I’m also a social work student now, so find it interesting to read about the mental health act side of things.
Thanks for this, feedback like this validates the time and effort taken to do this stuff. I’m really glad you had a good experience, I hear feedback about things like this all the time. I think the police get this right more than we get it wrong; but when it goes wrong, it goes REALLY, REALLY wrong. Great news on the social work course, good luck with that!
I have awarded you the Verstile blogger award http://showard76.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/row80-2012-versatile-blogger-award/
Love the blog!
Would you be interested in contributing to http://camelshump.co.uk at all?
We have a team of writers covering art, music, rants, books, parenting, opinion, politics and food, and there is no pressure to write on a regular basis. We accept reposts as well as new writing, and we have a very clear and fair writers policy, which you can read on our website.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Happy to – what angle would you like it on. Or you should feel free to cut / paste from my blog as you wish if there’s something on there which fits your requirements. I just ask for the hyperlink or credit for it reflected back onto the blog.
MHC, Wow – this business is simply in the too hard basket for many of us mere mortals. Your intelligence, compassion and practical knowledge/ability shine through. Keep this us please. Please consider running for a seat in parliament immediately – you will have my vote (I am still allowed to vote in the UK I think).
should have read keep this up!
Hi Michael , are you involved in any strands of work regarding the mental health of staff subject to misconduct procedures. There are currently no safeguards to identify and address vulnerability before, during and after the investigation/sanction process.
Not directly or usually. I have had the occasional query from managers or police Federation reps, but nothing systematic. Have you got something in mind?
stumbled across this blog, it looks interesting, i’d just like to share my experience with you, several years ago i had a manic episode (something i’d never had before), my behaviour was very erractic, and at one point the police were called to my house- the male officer came in the house and started singing ‘welcome to the house of fun’! this really upset me and my then partner, it was a really upsetting time for me, him and my son, and to have the pc react like that didn’t help matters. I realise you yourself seem more enlightened when it comes to mental health matters, but i’d often remembered this experience with the pc and wanted to share it somehow. best wishes
Thanks for sharing that. I can only imagine you found yourself in the presence of an insensitive fool who was extremely unprofessional. I would say that feedback about police attitudes is more towards the positive and bear in mind that people are more likely to highlight the negative and on balance we’re doing OK with more work to do.
Thanks for sharing, it is important that cops in particular read comments like yours. Sorry it was what you had a right to expect.
Please can you tell me what was wrong with my posts? I have found this blog very interesting and it was nice to think some cops out there care enough, in fact thinking over all that stuff that happened to me years ago really helped and i’m glad things are getting better for people going through it now. But it is very sad not to listen to someone who has been through it. Please can you explain?
I’m not sure … I can assure you I have only knowingly blocked one person who has ever posted. That said, I have caught a few genuine posts getting caught in the spam folder and have fished out the ones I’ve seen in there. I can assure there is no deliberate slight. Now that I’ve approved this comment and reply, your future posts will published automatically, so feel free to post at will. I hope that reassures, but apologies for any grief caused – can assure it wasn’t intentional.
Thanks… keep up the good work anyway, it’s an enlightening read 🙂
Apologies for the abundance of posts (I am also Earthbound Misfit – thanks for retrieving them!), but have potential suggestions/queries.
Obviously as a service user rather than MH professional or cop my viewpoint is somewhat different, however I have noticed from my experiences two things the police seem to come up against time and time again that they have commented on (as well as other things already covered in your blog).
1) What do you do if you have repeatedly 136’d someone and believe them to be a danger to themselves, but the mental health service refuse admittance to hospital/adequate follow up treatment? (personal experience: many cops scratching their heads not wanting to release me but crisis team not admitting me to hosp, repeated 136’s but no treatment/therapy/cpn etc. Friend involved in emergency services often picking up people who have attempted suicide attests this is still the case.) I know you covered the uncomfortable idea of having to put them in the cells as an emergency measure but when this is happening repeatedly is there anything that can be done from the police end?
2) Police doctors – ie. the ones who check on detainees in the cells – what (if any) mental health training do they have, and what issues may there be around this? (personal experience: being put in the cells – no offence, just a welfare check as crisis team knew I was, well, in crisis – once there they didn’t lock the door but had an officer sat in the doorway all night. Yet the police doctor had erroneosly decided I was on drugs, and in the morning assessed me as not mentally ill/at risk, despite the officers’ clear concern and, frankly, disagreement).
Hope I don’t sound too down on the police here, it seems as with so many things, those ‘on the front line’ are constantly thwarted in their efforts to do the right thing by seniors and/or other professionals.
1) Once the police or mental health spot the repeat, revolving door type problem there should be consideration of a new approach. There are many people who repeatedly come to police attention and keep being detained s136. As soon as someone is a x3 repeat, it should trigger a review, in my view and I’ve initiated conversations about what should be done. Sometimes that answer is to focus on the fact that some are committing criminal offences and prosecute; many more are not committing offences at all and all the police can ultimately do is hope the AMHP is referring any unmet social care or health needs appropriately. It is fair to say, that many police officers have spotted that the threshold to get admitted to hospital MHA is getting higher and higher every year.
2) FMEs all have training (to one extent or another) from the company who is contracted to work for the police. This will include education and training about identifying mental health problems and a certain amount about pathways. Many FMEs (but not all) are “s12 approved” so they have satisfied the statutory requirements around their knowledge and expertise in mental health. It is well known in research, that medical consistency in diagnosis is much poorer in psychaitry than in other medical sub-specialities so I don’t wonder when I hear stories of quick screening decisions being awry.
Maybe at the bottom of all of this, is issues around how mental illness is defined and applied: police perceptions are often OK, but not always and of course, there are many valid reasons why MH professionals may not admit someone who according to officers “obviously needs sectioning”. It is difficult and nor is it immume to politics and resources.
Hi there, found your blog via twitter….
I work across a number of primary schools in west London and the level of mental health distress among youngsters is staggering. My job is focussed on the parents and trying to support them to be the parents their children need and deserve – easier said than done, I’m afraid. No parent starts out not wanting the best for their kids, but their own distress and family history just gets them bogged down and prevents them making better choices. I also manage a family therapy group contract, which works long term with the families in partnership with the school and a psychotherapist. It works, but it is expensive and the money runs out next June….We are just trying to change the end point for these youngsters….not an unreasonable aim you’d think!
I’ll keep and eye on your blog and I’ll follow you on twitter.
Hi, I have just came across this site and I must say it seems a great site. I am setting up a local Mental Health Support Group in the Ladywood area. I think that you highlight some very good points and I must say that sometimes when a person joins the support group we never know what that person’s going to be like, but when we show the persons that we are here and support them then we see the bigger picture. I will be on this site more often!
Good! … thanks!! Gald it’s of use and let me know if you need anything specific as I’m always happy to write a new blog to some topics that would add value.
Michael, I reached out to you via Twitter, but would like to add the information here if I may.
Recently there have been news stories in which 6-year-olds were arrested by police for incidents of violence or meltdowns which local authorities (teachers, et al) were unable to control.
Meltdowns and violent behaviors have long been mistakenly associated with mental illness. In recent years much of the medical community are beginning to agree that was fallacy, but root cause and solution are still in question.
My blog and book present new diagnoses and treatments for much of these incidents: immature adrenaline systems overreactivity (IASO). IASO treatment has stopped violent behaviors in many patients. Beyond the obvious relief that is to the patients and families–it is also a relief to community when teachers, police and other authorities do not have to deal with such encounters.
I ask you to please review our new information, and help pass it along to those who can benefit from it.
MHC, how wonderful that you are blogging in a personal capacity and trying to make improvements at the intersection of these fields. It appears that you’re in England (?) and I appreciate the perspective. I’m becoming increasingly interested in how law enforcement agencies in your country operate and how they are evolving to address such issues, especially since my area of expertise is forensic psychology.
Thanks – yes, I’m in England. I think UK police forces could be fairly described as being a little bit behind our colleagues in the US, Australia and Canada, etc., but at the same time, some of the issues are different because we’ren not routinely armed with firearms.
Your work sounds interesting?
Currently forensic psychology is what I focus on away from my paid job– just got the degree recently and am moving that way. I’m sure you’re familiar with it, but it’s the intersection of psychology and the legal system. Since my background is criminal justice and I’m a law buff anyway, it’s a good fit.
It still amazes me that you guys don’t carry firearms. Many of us Americans would give up bread and water before we give up our right to bear arms.
Quite interesting Michael………
Cheers, Jean! – hope you thought so. May also help me ‘nail’ a read from another country! Believe it not, I have in fact read the Namibian Mental Health Act 1974! LOL.
Reading some more, ofcoarse not all of it makes sense to me, as it’s not my field of interest, but I have dealt with some dubious characters in my life before, maybe this can help me to understand the “handling” of mentally unstable people better. Now you can ad Angola as a country where it was read.
Cheers, regards to the family.
P.S. In Namibia there is not much knowledge on how to handle “mentally unstable people”, in their inexperience, these people are sometimes not handled / treated with enough respect or consideration of their situation.
Hi Micheal, I hope you are well? I was wondering if you could recomend some articles for mental health users to read on what the police do in regards to Mental Health? Any advice would greatful.
Great Blog, as a long suffering mental health patient for 20 years i have seen and received the worst in health services. After 10 years of been actively involved in Crime to fund a drug and alcohol problem, it was a concerned Police officer who fought to get me the right help ( to which i now have been clean and gone straight for 5 years now ). Even though i am loads of medication to control my psychosis and other problems, i can finally reflect on the negatives and the positives. 10 years ago Back in times when Mental Health was considered a touchy subject, i was placed in a cell with no supervision ( even though i had pre warned the custody sergeant of my health ). In this case i used a plastic knife to slice open my arms, to which the officers quickly covered up so i could face court ( No doctors or medical treatment was given ). I was lucky that i was released so i could go to hospital to have medical attention.
After a long period of 70 suicide attempts, and countless resuscitation’s it was not the health service that helped me but the Police. Even though i had been a complete nightmare for them on many occasions. And it was an individual Police officer that made the massive difference that got me the help and changed my life. I have massive respect for the police service now and understand more about the struggles they face when confronted with someone with the conditions i have ( when untreated ).
I would like to repay the Police in any way i can, but figured the best way to repay the officer that helped me is to carry on the right path.
Thanks for posting this – I must admit, I have sat and read it three times trying to take in the magnitude of it. I’m lost for words really, but think this is very profound and I’m really glad that an officer was able to get the help for you that you needed. Thanks again. 🙂
Think what is important is encouraging people to talk about there problems, as i believe a lot of my problem was not been able to say anything in fear of how people would react. Many occasions where i have seen a psychologist and they have started crying or you get the look of shock. But have been told mine is a very extreme condition.
I have studied alot about mental health as i want to understand the way my mind works, because if i understand why my mind works the way it does only then can i find a solution to suppress the feelings and thoughts. Think though it is about time Mental health Carers should be posted to police stations. If you go to a Hospital the resources or available, but i can probably guarantee a larger percentage pass through the custody desk !. Even if you had a professional stood in the background assessing people as they were booked in, its that point of intervention that could identify people who slip through the net. Because like me alot would repeat offend or cause problems for the police in other ways. Or like the doctors you have, if during the booking in process it raises concerns of mental health, you could have a professional come down to asses the persons needs. But if you wanted me to write everything down about my past to help police officers understand how i used to think i would be more than happy to.
I would hope the government should rethink care in the community and employ people in social and health care that don’t have any mental health problems themselves which sadly dosen’t seem to happen. Why risk the safety of the public any longer? As for introducing them into work places as part of rehabilitation people i know will refuse to work with them for safety reasons. It seems unfair to ask the police to pick up the mess these doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and the government made for the general public by not institutionalising these people with ‘mental health’ issues in the first place. The cost shouldn’t outweigh the public’s safety.
“By not institutionalising these people” << Which people?
The mentally ill – just some of 'them' or do you mean all of 'them'? … some reckon that there are millions of mentally I’ll people in the UK – where are we institutionalising them and who has asked the British people if they are happy with this and to pay the extra taxes needed to pay for it?
Maybe just the mentally ill who have offended? All offences or just those involving violence? – what about damage? – how much damage is enough damage to lock people up for years, bearing in mind you don’t easily get years in prison for damage?
Who is deciding this stuff – not your courts or elected Parliament, that's for certain.
I've published this comment precisely because I'll go to my grave opposing the effect of its sweeping intentions.
I nominated you for One Lovely Blog award. Keep on going.
Hi Michael, great blog – thanks. Sensible, open discussion about mental illness is far too infrequent and unfortunately attitudes towards, and understanding of, the vast spectrum of ‘mental illnesses’ is frequently limited. I’m running the London Marathon for Mind and anything you could do to help me reach my target in terms of promotion/tweeting etc would be hugely appreciated. The site I’ve set up to support this is http://tashtag.wordpress.com
I am doing my dissertation on the Police and their treatment of the mentally disordered and the use of the Appropriate Adult, my lecturer pointed me to your blog and i’ve found it fascinating and very useful!
Brave man! We are literally piggy in the middle in this area and as with CPS, HMP and the Home Office in general there is no consistency. I take my hat off to you for trying to bring some clarity of thought to this arena. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter firstly as I don’t have the time and secondly our PSD spend an inordinate amount of time trawling through these sites trying to catch people out but I am happy to be kept in the loop by email please. Once again my congratulations for going point on this, Hugh
World of Mentalists; sounds like an out of town shopping mall for the crazed. Someone should pitch this to Dragons Den, I would so shop there….
Sorry, that was v trite and childish. Good man. Well done for sticking your head above the parapet and opening your mind. Wish there were more like you.
Your blog interests me – my concern about it is this. Do you include people with a diagnosis in your conversations? As so called “vunerable” (by you) people, isn’t their experience in “their voice” also important to understanding? Thank you for your time. I apologize if I overlooked this already … I feel strongly that human rights need to be equal for all humans.
Over some years, I have been on the receiving end of unpleasant and sometimes frightening situations where people have clearly had a mental health issue of some kind; therefore I would like to share my thoughts as an ordinary member of the public.
It is very emotionally challenging to have to deal with someone with mental health issues when you don’t know the best and most effective way of doing it. If one does nothing, then nothing happens and the *perpetrator does not get a benchmark or guideline that their behaviour is inappropriate and they will be inclined to do it again (in my experience).
The difficult decision of what to do, who to call and how to resolve these kinds of issues seems to be a stark choice between not bothering anyone or calling the Met. It is one extreme or the other and neither are the very best choices.
If one does nothing, the distressing situations reoccur. If the decision is to call the Met, there is a feeling of powerlessness and inadequacy because we have had to ask for help. There is also a feeling of guilt because it could lead to someone getting into trouble or being put in a Police cell when it is not always clear just how culpable of any actual crime they really are and therefore, may be inappropriate.
It seems also to be true that some of these people know perfectly well what they are doing and are quite calculating, for instance, they may decide to ‘attack’ when their victim is on their own or when they see their lights go out, knowing full well that that their targets have gone to bed. How much they actually understand of the distress they cause for real is not clear.
There are a large range of mental health disorders, add that to different personality types and we can see that there is no clear cut, one stop approach to managing people with mental health difficulties and no comfort for victims who may feel embarrassed at having to involve the Met in sorting out escalating problems.
I myself have Asperger’s Syndrome and take longer to understand social situations, it often means I am vulnerable socially because I cannot manage situations quickly enough, giving the perpetrator an advantage.
I also have a deep empathy for those who struggle and for those who are damaged either at birth or because of horrendous and cruel parenting. It is a hard mental state to juggle, on the one hand, feeling empathy and on the other, feeling confused, upset or angry at someone is genuinely struggling with some kind of disorder.
This is a complex issue for all involved.
*I use the word perpetrator although in its true sense it does not cover all of the people that may be causing others distress, as all/many/some? may not doing it deliberately.
You should watch the anime, Psycho Pass. It takes place in the future where the law enforcement automatically arrests anyone who is mentally ill because they believe that anyone with mental illness will eventually commit a crime. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t done anything wrong or their situation that they are in, if they show a level of mental illness on the law enforcement’s computer, they are arrested and sent away, separated from “normal” society.
In the first episode, they went after a guy who showed a high level of mental illness on their program. When they reached him, he sexually assaulted a women who was mentally healthy. After he kidnaps and assault her it shows on the program that she has gotten a high level of mental illness which means she would be taken away as well. When she figured this out, as you can imagine, it scared her, increases her level and it showed in the program. She was victim of a crime, a victim of someone else’s action she could not control over and yet that made her become looked at as threat to society. Anyways, her level was so high that it reached to a level where it was required to kill her (after a certain level, it is seen as too risky to keep that person alive). By the time they found her she was willing to kill herself before they can taker he away. It was interesting to watch.
Also there was a study that found that mentally ill people are twice more likely to be victims of crimes then mentally healthy people. [Medscape : Violent Crime Against Mentally Ill Prevalent, Underreported : Deborah Brauser] Let that sit for a while as I notice you have tendency to only highlight the positive experiences of policemen interaction with the mentally ill and then avoid or dismiss the negative ones
There are almost 400 articles in this blog and many are exclusively devoted to highlighting police actions that have led to deaths in custody and adverse outcomes whilst others highlight how badly the police investigate crimes where any party involved is living with a mental health disorder. See posts about victims, inpatient hospital violence and liaison and diversion.
To suggest I avoid subjects where the police are shown in a poor light is demonstrably false. I am very critical of the police – the blog exists in the first place because I am critical of the lack of training and leadership. But it is also true to say that many frontline cops do a decent and even an excellent job in difficult circumstances so yes: I highlight that because some narratives about policing and mental health are all bad, without justification.
I don’t know about “demonstrably” I have already read some of your blog posts before and then another time after your response and honestly… you come off more as indeterminate and inconclusive about your stance on sanism than you are claiming. It’s not exactly a bad thing because your not obliged to have an explicit stance but I don’t know about it being “very critical”. You also use this “us and them” way of talking whenever discussing about mentally ill people and I trust you know why that might be very problematic. I still stand by what I said: you have a tendency to validate commentators with positive experience with the police force but not so much with the negatives ones. I’m not making all of this up, it’s something I have noticed around your blog. I don’t discourage you from doing what you are doing but I do think that some self awareness would be nice.
Of course, “demonstrably” – it is capable of demonstration and beyond all doubt that I have written many blogs critical, indeed some that are highly cricical, of the police. That being the case, how can I not “demopnstrate” being “very critical” when the blogs I took the time to specify say in clear terms that the police keep doing things that get people killed and that put people at risk?! If you can’t see that in the blogs I’ve written, you’re not reading them closely enough. Finally, I am not trying to write a formal academic treatise free of bias – I’m a policeman, writing about police related mental health incidents from that perspective and there are reasons for that.
The fact that a police officer is speaking out against out of touch, stereotyped, and archaic policies and practices within the law enforcement profession at all is uniquely refreshing. It is a risk that many officers I’ve known are unwilling to take. The excuse for not going against the status quo is that “they have to be sure other officers have their backs because their lives could depend on it.” There is a terrible herd mentality among law enforcement officers that usually means they go along with the crowd because it’s the easiest thing to do– even when those mainstream practices are morally and/or legally wrong. It reminds me a lot of high school, where you’re an outcast if you don’t do what the jocks do, right or wrong.
Having worked in, been married to, been educated in (etc.) the law enforcement realm, I heartily commend an officer like this who stands up for what he believes is right to help others. It is rare and valuable, and I say that without agreeing with everything he says. In some agencies it seems to be a macho badge of honor to have shot a mentally ill person dead; there are ultra-arrogant, puffed-up-on-their-power-cops with itchy trigger fingers who can’t wait to let their bullets loose and be hailed as heroes for it. There are others who appear politically correct but in their social circles make fun of “retards” and “psychos” as if cops are superior life forms who’ve somehow “chosen” not to have obvious mental issues. And that in spite of the alcoholism, fraternization, infidelity, drug use, and other evils that thrive in some police cultures.
To have an officer speak his mind about mental illness on a global platform–without that sadistic bent– is amazing. While any author worth their salt is open to constructive criticism, MentalHealthCop has no obligation to write up any opinion or experience but his own in this forum. It’s his blog.
Pray tell Wildninja, would be so kind to point out where I said that? Or are you willfully taking my comment out of context? I guess that would be more enjoyable than actually reading it.
Oh Mentalhealthcop, I guess it’s easier for you to have others take my comment out of context and speak for you than for you to speak for yourself. ::shrug::
Feel free to keep making things up if you prefer, but you’ll notice I had replied to your comment before Wildninja did – I’m quite happy to speak for myself but as this blog is a public forum, others may respond if they wish and all commentators should be prepared for that.
It’s not actually easier or harder, one way or the other, to have other people interpret your comments – it is for them to interpret them as they see fit, as I do. None of this means they are speaking *for* me. I have spoken for myself in the blogs I have written and in the comments where I feel inclined to add to that.
Excellent blog, I have shared your posts with colleagues throughout my mental health nurse training… it ought to be a compulsory text on the reading list!
I can honestly say that the police saved my life. That is until they handed me over to health – who promptly managed to keep misplacing me and seemed to be hellbent on reducing the caseload by neglecting me to the point I’d succeed in in taking my own life. I’d have been safer in a cell – away from the crisis team.
Personally I think on the second or third ‘please locate as concern for welfare’ for the same person inside 12 hours that the police should tell health to actually do their job and protect patient welfare, then offer them one, or all of the following options. 1. Training on how to find and keep hold of people, 2. Inform health they will be getting a bill for police time or 3. Arrest & charge health/social care staff responsible for wasting police time.
It makes me wonder where the real mental health crisis expertise lies…. Going by my experience it isn’t my local crisis team.
Can anyone think why I trusted and engaged with the police more than the crisis team?