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The thin blue line of mental health in Australia

journal contribution
posted on 2010-08-01, 00:00 authored by K Clifford
While the shift from psychiatric custodial treatment and accommodation of mentally ill individuals to community living and community care may have been devised with good intentions, poorly implemented reforms have promulgated numerous deficiencies in Australia’s mental health system. Among these has been the troubling proportion of mentally ill individuals who have ‘fallen through the cracks’ into crisis as a consequence of a lack of access to services and care required. By virtue of the 24/7 nature of their work, Australian police officers have now become the primary, and often the only, responders to mental health crises in the community. The burden of filling these service gaps – often without the requisite knowledge, understanding, training, or resources to do so – has, at worst, culminated in the shooting deaths of a number of mentally ill individuals; resulting in long‐term traumatic impacts for both police and families associated with such events. More recently, initiatives have been developed to improve the capacity of police officers to respond effectively to mentally ill individuals, using less coercive methods of event resolution and interaction during mental health crisis interventions.

History

Journal

Police practice and research

Volume

11

Issue

4

Pagination

355 - 370

Publisher

Taylor & Francis

Location

Abingdon, Eng.

ISSN

1561-4263

eISSN

1477-271X

Language

eng

Publication classification

CN.1 Other journal article

Copyright notice

2010, Taylor & Francis

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