Home > News > News stories > Police use their vans to spread the message about mental health support

Police use their vans to spread the message about mental health support

Last modified: 15 January 2021 at 01:01pm

Every police van in North Yorkshire is to display the Samaritans‘ contact details as the force helps spread the word about mental health support available this winter.

North Yorkshire Police received more than 9,000 calls involving mental health in the past six months, and hope that the information could help people in their hour of need.

It coincides with the most dower day of the year, referred to as Blue Monday, and the start of a third lockdown which has left many people feeling isolated.

A police officer standing next to a van
Sergeant Elaine Malcolm with one of the newly-signed vans

The vans are used for patrols in all districts of North Yorkshire and to respond to incidents, many of which are mental health-related.

An estimated 40% of calls to police involve some kind of mental health issue. In the last six months, North Yorkshire Police has received 9,230 phonecalls which involved some kind of mental health factor.

The move is part of a wider raft of support the force has introduced in recent years.

It includes a team of mental health specialists in the 999 control room who can provide officers with expert advice as they deal with incidents. And forcewide training for officers and PCSOs to help them better understand people’s needs.

Sergeant Elaine Malcolm, the force’s mental health and suicide prevention lead, said: “As police officers, some of the most heartbreaking incidents we deal with include people who are isolated, vulnerable or are struggling with their mental health.

“The police have a vital role in helping these people get the support they need and we use our vans to respond to a wide range of incidents, many of which involve mental health issues. We also work closely with other organisations to provide support to vulnerable people.

“So by displaying Samaritans‘ contact details we hope to share information that can help people at a time when they need it most.”

Samaritans says a survey of 3,000 people across the UK found that 8% of people surveyed were experiencing mental health problems at the beginning of lockdown, rising to 10% by mid-May.

The charity provided emotional support to callers 1.2 million times in the first six months since social distancing began.

The current third lockdown coincides with so-called ‘Blue Monday’ – said to be the most dismal day of the year due to a combination of factors that affect mood including finances, daylight hours and weather.

Samaritans CEO Julie Bentley said: “There’s no doubt that these uncertain and challenging times have affected the way we go about our daily lives.

“As restrictions and uncertainty continues, it is essential that we look after our own mental health and others by continuing to check in on one another and sharing how we are feeling whether it’s with a friend, family member or a confidential helpline like Samaritans.

“We’re grateful to North Yorkshire Police for helping to raise awareness of our services, as Samaritans volunteers are always there to listen and they won’t judge or tell you what to do.”

Anyone can contact Samaritans free any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill.

Or you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org

Samaritans provides media guidance for the reporting of suicide at www.samaritans.org/about-samaritans/media-guidelines/ 

Posted on in News stories