LISTEN: Mental health training given to police officers
Police officers in the isles have been given mental health training in response to a growing number of related call-outs.
Chief Inspector Lindsay Tulloch said 38 officers, including himself, had been trained this year to respond to those in crisis.
He said it was part of a national scheme, with an increasing number of non-criminal emergency calls.
“It has been recognised that the police service is having to change to keep the community safe,” said Mr Tulloch.
“We have to recognise what our priorities are and it’s quite clear that the number of calls we are attending in relation to vulnerable people and mental health has increased.
“As such we have to ensure we are equipped to provide a service that is effective for people in need.”
Between April and December last year officers attended nearly 1,200 call-outs. Of those about 570 were crimes and the remainder were for advice and assistance.
Nearly 170 calls were made to officers relating to vulnerable people and of those 17 related to mental health.
Meanwhile 75 calls related to medical matters and 55 were for general concerns.
Mr Tulloch said mental health and suicide prevention training gave officers skills to recognise symptoms of distress and help those at risk of suicide.
“The training concentrates on intervention and communication by establishing contact, active listening skills, building a rapport and calming techniques.
“There were 672 suicides registered in Scotland in 2015 and the suicide rate for males was more than two-and-a-half times females in 2015.
“Although we can see a rise in calls related to mental health there have been no calls related to suicide in Shetland for the last two years which is testament to the work that has been done by with our partners in mental health improvement.”
Mr Tulloch noted work such as the Grubby Hut scheme by mental health charity Mind Your Head, inviting people in male-orientated places to speak about mental health.
“Police officers are at the frontline and when someone calls in an emergency the police are quite often there before any other service. It’s at that point we need to be equipped to provide that initial intervention to recognise the signs of suicide and open the pathways of communication which is so important when people reach that crisis point.”