Police and Mental Health co-response teams trial a resounding success – but more investment needed in failing mental health system

Greens spokesperson for Mental Health Hon Alison Xamon MLC has congratulated the Government on the successful trial of the police and mental health co-response team initiative – but says there is still a way to go to fix the multiple gaps that still exist within the mental health system.

Ms Xamon said the current and previous Governments were to be commended for implementing the first trial of its kind in Australia – following a staggering sixfold increase in police call-outs to incidents involving mental health in just 10 years.

She said the majority of calls were not related to criminal incidents, but the result of last resort calls made in desperation by community members who did not believe they could access the relevant mental health services.

“In 2007, police responded to 4,766 incidents involving mental health, according to WAPOL statistics,” Ms Xamon said.

“In 2017, there were 28,000 calls – a staggering increase.”

Ms Xamon, who has been tracking the trial since it began in January 2016, said the trial evaluation, tabled in Parliament yesterday, showed a dramatic reduction in people taken to hospital following an incident.

She said those who were hospitalised, found the process much more streamlined.

“The presence of a co-response team mental health worker means that the person is supported rather than further traumatised,” Ms Xamon said.

“Despite police officers’ best intentions, it can be frightening to be approached by police, particularly in the middle of a mental health crisis.”

Ms Xamon said she was pleased to see the implementation of a program recommended in the Western Australian 10-Year Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Services Plan, which was developed under the previous Government and received bipartisan support.

She said the co-response team initiative should now form an integral part of the mental health system.

“Aside from the resounding success of the co-response teams trial, other parts of the system are failing and require significant investment,” Ms Xamon said.

“A good start to finding the money to fund the 10-Year plan would be to ensure 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Graylands Hospital goes directly back into the mental health system.”