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One in five people in Northern Ireland will have a mental health issue at some point during their life, and each month there are around 1,600 calls made to police that have a mental health component.

Multi Agency Triage Team Pilot

Mental health pracititioners and paramedics are working alongside police officers as part of a pilot project, aimed at providing on-the-spot help to vulnerable adults with mental health difficulties, while at the same time reducing their reliance on hospital, ambulance and Police resources.

In this new approach, members of a Multi Agency Triage Team (MATT) assess and respond to calls made either to the police or ambulance control room using the 999 or 101 numbers. The team may then decide to attend an incident where there appears to be a related mental health issue.

MATT has been operational in the Ards, North Down and Lisburn areas since the start of July 2018 and operates on Friday and Saturday evenings. It has been supported by the Public Health Agency.

From a pool of more than 55 skilled staff across the NIAS, Police Service of Northern Ireland and the South Eastern Trust who volunteered to take part in the project, a team of two police officers, one paramedic and a mental health practitioner are on duty over a 12 hour night shift on a Friday and Saturday night.

They assess calls and respond to incidents where the person is experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis and they feel they can offer advice or intervene.

You can learn more about the MATT pilot in this BBC Newsline article

Policing and Community Support Hubs

Support Hubs provide an early intervention for vulnerable individuals identified predominantly by statutory agencies. The Support Hub brings together key professionals including blue light services, health and social care staff and the voluntary sector as a cross agency group, to share information and make decisions to improve a person's situation.

In 2017-18 Support Hubs operated in four areas: Derry and Strabane, Antrim and Newtownabbey, Mid and East Antrim, and Causeway Coast and Glens. As at March 2019, they are being rolled out across other PCSP areas.

Indicative evidence from Support Hubs shows how a collaborative approach can produce successful outcomes which cannot necessarily be achieved through one agency. The PCSP Joint Committee (consisting of the Department of Justice and NI Policing Board) is working with PCSP managers and Support Hub partners to demonstrate through Outcomes Based Accountability (OBA) that Support Hubs are addressing the root causes of concern for vulnerable persons and making a positive difference to people's lives, while reducing repeat demand on public services.

Source: Making partnerships work - A good practice guide for public bodies, Northern Ireland Audit Office, 30 April 2019)