A ground-breaking program providing mental health support in policing matters has been extended to a five-day operation following a successful three-month pilot on the Gold Coast.
The Mental Health Co-Responders program sees an experienced mental health nurse working alongside Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers to respond to police call-outs where mental health might be a factor to provide expert assessment and advice.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services, Steven Miles, said the program was helping to deliver timely care to patients in need of crisis mental health support.
“The beauty of this program is that it allows a much quicker, in situ, health response,” Minister Miles said.
“Rather than transporting the patient to hospital, the mental health nurse can work with the patient at the call-out location to deescalate situations and come up with a care plan that will suit their needs.”
During the pilot, which ran from August to October, there were 67 call outs requiring the support of the joint Mental Health Co-responder team. Of those, two thirds remained at home or at the call-out location and only 22 per cent required transportation to hospital emergency departments.
Gold Coast Health’s Mental Health Intervention Coordinator Nicki Filauer said the key to the program’s success if the cross-agency support for vulnerable people in the community.
“We’ve worked really closely with the Gold Coast district police officers to ensure that we are able to better respond to persons experiencing mental health crisis in the community,” Ms Filauer said.
“The focus area for us has been north of Broadbeach and both the mental health clinicians and police officers involved have undergone joint training so that we can deliver the best result for the patient and for the community.”
Queensland Police Service Acting Superintendent Mark White said, “A large number of ‘calls for service’ received by the QPS are associated with mental health issues.
“Therefore, in order to achieve the best possible outcome for community safety and for the vulnerable persons suffering mental illness, an integrated response between the QPS, Gold Coast Health and the Queensland Ambulance Service is imperative.”
The Mental Health Co-Responders program is run successfully in West Moreton Hospital and Health Service and in a range of countries overseas.
On the Gold Coast, the program runs from 2pm to 10pm Wednesday through to Sunday of each week.