I am pleased to be supporting Time to Talk Day 2016 by pledging to talk about mental health for Kent. This awareness day is run by Time to Change, a mental health campaign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It is vital that we all take part in the national conversation about mental health so that we can break the stigma and make sure people know they are not alone.
Mental health is one of my priorities and an issue I care deeply about. That is why if elected as Police and Crime commissioner in May I want to revolutionise the approach to the way in which patients with mental illness interact with the Police.
What you may not know is that Police forces across the county estimate that around a fifth of Police time is spent dealing with cases involving mental health. Some of this will involve allegations of criminal activity, but officers tell me that the Police are being called out to more incidents involving vulnerable people where it was not possible to contact those who might be better placed to help.
Police officers and staff are hard-working, diligent and passionate about cutting crime, supporting victims and helping the public. But they are not trained health professionals – and should not be expected act as such. We need to reduce the pressure being placed on our Police where it is appropriate, freeing them up to tackle local issues and emerging threats. While it is important to reduce the burden on the Police, it is also important that vulnerable people get the right support.
However, this is not just about cases that the Police deal with, it is also about officers and staff themselves. One in four people will suffer from mental health problems every year, but too many do not want to seek help for fear of it affecting their jobs or relationships.
That’s why I am supporting Time to Talk Day – so we can tackle the stigma and ensure everyone gets the support that they need.
Matthew Scott Conservative Candidate for Police and Crime Commissioner