How cops cope

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Police mental health presentation popular with nurses

An Avondale lecturer was so keen to teach her nursing students about intersectoral collaboration she called the police.

Lecturer Kerry Miller (centre) and her nursing students with Sergeant Matthew Ireland and Martin Collis from the NSW Police Force.

Sergeant Matthew Ireland from the NSW Police Force’s Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) accepted an invitation from Kerry Miller to speak to second-year students about the responsibilities and the challenges of dealing with this vulnerable group of people. He explained how more than 16,000 members were receiving MHIT training. He also gave examples of how the police and the healthcare sector communicate to ensure appropriate assistance is received by those who need it.

Clinical nurse consultant Martin Collis, seconded to MHIT from NSW Health, accompanied Matthew, sharing information about the nature of mental healthcare nursing and the role of nurses in intersectoral collaboration.

The response from students: overwhelmingly positive. Matthew and Martin’s willingness to answer questions from the class impressed Kathryn Fletcher, who says she now has a “clear understanding of the role of the police when dealing with a person suffering an acute psychotic episode.” Adds classmate Margaret Snedden: “It’s satisfying knowing education about mental health is being offered, especially when the media only portrays negative stories regarding the police.”

The presentation conveyed a more accurate image of what it is like nursing those with mental healthcare needs, says Kerry. “Matt and Martin helped drive home the meaning behind a dusty term like ‘intersectoral collaboration.’ MHIT has indicated a willingness to continue its involvement with our undergraduate nurses, and we aim to include a presenter from the Ambulance Service next year.”