POLICE and healthcare workers have pledged to work more closely to help people with mental health difficulties.
Hampshire Constabulary and the Isle of Wight NHS Trust have reached the halfway stage of Operation Serenity, a scheme to improve responses to mental health crisis calls, where vulnerable people may need specialist support or there are concerns for their safety.
During the six month pilot, launched in November, police officers and mental health practitioners respond to calls together.
Island police receive, on average, 79 mental health crisis calls every month, a spokeswoman said today.
Ch Insp Nick Heelan said: "Care in the community has increased in the last ten years and projects such as Operation Serenity show the adaptability and commitment of both the police, NHS and partner agencies to educate staff to ensure we deliver the best possible service.
"We’re keen to test and analyse the effects of Operation Serenity which was funded by the Community Safety Partnership. Whilst this programme has only been running for three months, early signs are very positive and we look forward to a full review after six months.
"It may well be looked at as a blueprint for other areas both locally and regionally as well as enabling us to design future services to cater for those individuals identified as most at risk."
The objective of the six-month pilot scheme, currently operating on Friday and Saturday evenings, is to provide the best possible response to people in crisis and, with an improved initial diagnosis, reduce the time spent dealing with such incidents.
Community health deputy associate director at Isle of Wight NHS Trust, Mark Edmond said: "This important project is already showing benefits for patients, the NHS and police. Where possible we want to ensure that patients are treated in the most suitable and appropriate environment.
"One in ten of us will suffer from a problem with our mental health at some stage in our lives and there are many other ways to provide treatment and support on the Island without the need for an admission to Sevenacres."