Extra Support for Mental Health

People experiencing mental health problems, who come to the attention of the Police Scotland or Transport Police within Forth Valley, are now getting quicker access to direct care and treatment, which, in many cases, avoids the need for them to be taken to the Emergency Department in Forth Valley Royal Hospital for an assessment.

The pre-hospital mental health triage service, which is run jointly between NHS Forth Valley and Police Scotland, is provided by senior mental health nurses who are able to direct people to the most appropriate service. Run jointly by NHS Forth Valley and Police Scotland, it is designed particularly to help people with a mental health disorder or where an individual has symptoms which require an urgent mental health assessment.

Since the service, which is part of NHS Forth Valley’s Mental Health Acute Assessment and Treatment Service, was put in place earlier this year, more than 300 people have been able to access expert mental health treatment and advice without having to wait in the Emergency Department for assessment. Not only has this been beneficial for the patient, but it has also freed up hours of police time to deal with other issues, rather than police officers, sometimes two, having to sit with people in the Emergency Department while they wait for assessments to be completed.

Ross Cheape, Service Development Manager for Mental Health Services, NHS Forth Valley, said: “This service has been carefully designed in close collaboration with Emergency Department and Police Scotland colleagues.  This joint approach ensures that people are seen at the right place, by the right professional and maximises the opportunity to meet the individual needs of our patients. This person centred approach is a really important part of our service and one that we are very proud of.”

Chief Superintendent Thom McLoughlin, Divisional Commander for Forth Valley said: “We know all too well, that many members of our community live with a range of mental health issues and are supported by our colleagues in the NHS.  However, for a variety of reasons there are occasions where police assistance or intervention is required in order to protect those who are vulnerable or in need of help.

“Working closely with our colleagues at NHS Forth Valley, this new triage service has been implemented, not only ease pressure on NHS Forth Valley’s Emergency Department but also to ensure that those who need it get the very best possible care in times of crisis.  In my experience, every occasion is different and often a tailored approach is needed in order to ensure the best possible outcome for all those involved.  Access to specialist support can help my officers to make informed decisions and ensure that the most appropriate care is provided.

“We remain committed to working alongside our key partners to provide the highest level of service to all members of our communities and will do everything in our power to protect those most vulnerable in their hour of need.”

The new mental health triage system offers several options including an emergency mental health assessment within the Mental Health Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and telephone counselling. It also aims to improve the experience of patients who require an urgent mental health assessment, particularly during the evening and overnight periods when the majority of referrals for urgent mental health assessments are made. The scheme has been introduced at a time when the number of mental health incidents dealt with by police across the UK has risen by more than a quarter in four years.