Mental health team in Bedfordshire supports local campaign

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Members of Bedfordshire’s multi-agency Mental Health Street Triage have lent their support to a local mental health campaign.

The ‘Let’s Be Open about Mental Health’ campaign is led by local campaigner Ben Salmons, and aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health by encouraging more conversations about it, raise awareness and understanding and ensure people know it’s okay to ask for help.

According to MIND, 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year.

The new Mental Health Street Triage is a partnership between Bedfordshire Police, East of England Ambulance Trust, East London NHS Foundation Trust, Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Luton Clinical Commissioning Group and mental health charities MIND-BLMK and the Samaritans.

The pilot scheme sees a police officer, paramedic and mental health professional team up in one car to respond to mental health crisis calls 365 days a year.

They cover the county, operating from 3pm – 1am, with bases at police headquarters in Kempston and Luton Police Station.

Ben visited the team before a recent shift to find out more about the work they are doing, and the team wrote a message of support on one of his campaign boards.

He continues to visit organisations across the county to encourage them to do the same, and organisations such as Bedford Athletic RFC, MIND-BLMK, the Samaritans and many individuals, including Andrew Selous MP for South West Bedfordshire, have also lent their support to the campaign.

He said: “It was great to meet the team, I am so pleased to see the mental health street triage team up and running.

“From my personal experience of being in a mental health crisis, this is an absolutely vital service to have in place.”

Chief Inspector Jaki Whittred, the force’s lead for mental health, said: “The force has supported Ben’s campaign for some time and will continue to do so. “We continue to work hard on many initiatives to increase our understanding of mental health to make sure we can provide the best possible service to our diverse communities, and the Mental Health Street Triage is the most recent of these initiatives.

“The demand we have seen so far demonstrates why this service is so important for Bedfordshire’s communities, and although this first year is a pilot scheme, we hope eventually this will become a permanent service for Bedfordshire.”

Paramedic Warren Olsen, who is involved with the mental health street triage, said: “It’s a pleasure to be involved with this scheme, one that has already proven to be extremely successful in the months following its launch.

“Although this is a pilot scheme, we would love to see it evolve into a permanent team in Bedfordshire, one that we hope can also be rolled out across the region.

“Mental health is as important as physical health, something which we’ve been able to understand better through this scheme in the Bedfordshire communities.”