More mental health training for frontline police

Frontline Victoria Police officers will receive additional in-depth training solely dedicated to assisting people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Lauren Callaway said the new two-day training was mandatory for all frontline police officers and would be delivered at police stations across the state from July.

“With the rate of mental health incidents continuing to rise in our community, it is more important than ever to ensure our officers are better equipped with the skills required to respond,” Acting AC Callaway said.

“Police responded to an incident involving a person experiencing a mental health crisis every 12 minutes in the 2017/18 financial year.

“Responding to these complex incidents account for at least half of an officer’s shift.

“The program has been designed to equip frontline police with specialised communication techniques to effectively address the needs of people experiencing mental health issues who come into contact with police.

“Mental health education already forms a major focus in police training. The newly-developed program builds on existing training provided to recruits during their training.”

The Police Responding in Mental Health Events (PRIME) Training will enhance the capability of police to better manage the significant number of situations involving people experiencing mental health issues.

It will also help to prevent the escalation of incidents and associated harm to the individual, police and community and enhance diversion to assessment and treatment.

The training will be co-delivered by a mental health clinician and police officer, and will take place over two consecutive days. The training has also been informed by people with lived experience of mental health issues, and their family and carers.

It will involve demonstrations, simulations, practical exercises and problem-based learning.

These activities will be supported by a variety of short educational videos and interviews with people who have experienced mental health issues or have a family member who has.

The training will also cover the effects of stigma, bias and stereotyping, the importance of family and friends, as well the options available within the mental health system.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Lauren Callaway said the training would commence state-wide following a successful pilot in Mernda, Shepperton, Moorabbin, Ballarat, and Melbourne East last year.

“Input from police from these trial sites has been crucial in designing the training,” Acting AC Callaway said.

“We want to ensure this training is realistic and practical for our frontline police.

“We are pleased with the feedback from participants from these areas, with many reporting the training had dramatically improved their interactions with people experiencing a mental health issue.”

The PRIME training was funded by the Victorian Government through the 2017/2018 state budget.

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