The state government are expecting improved outcomes for people with a mental illness when it introduces a Mental Health Co Response program to the region.
The "innovative" program is a cross-government response to mental health challenges that sees WA Health, WA Police and the Mental Health Commission in partnership
The Co Response program involves mental health practitioners from WA Country Health Service and police officers co-responding to calls seeking assistance, where mental illness is identified as a likely factor.
By providing specialist intervention and support, the initiative aims to provide a coordinated response for people experiencing mental health crisis, including self-harm, alcohol and other drug-related issues.
Health minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said the program was a step forward for the region.
"The Mental Health Co-Response is an important step forward for South West communities, providing a new approach to de-escalate situations where people are facing a mental health crisis," she said.
The program is designed to divert people experiencing mental health distress away from the criminal justice system and connect them with the mental health support services they require.
Police minister Paul Papalia said seven additional officers would be sent to the South West to assist in the rollout of the program.
"At least 20 will receive specialist training which will enable them to work side by side with mental health clinicians," he said.
"This initiative has proven to be effective in the metropolitan area and in the first regional site, Geraldton. It's good for the community, individuals, families and police.
"Having Aboriginal mental health workers as part of the co-response team will also ensure a culturally sensitive response to people in the community experiencing a mental health crisis."
Response teams will be supported by Aboriginal mental health workers, to ensure Aboriginal communities have access to culturally informed support.
"Wherever possible we need to focus on people with mental illness getting the help they need in a community-based setting and avoiding unnecessary presentations to the emergency department and diverting away from the criminal justice system," Ms Sanderson.
The program will initially cover Bunbury and immediate surrounds from the end of July 2022.
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