One in five persons within the community suffers from a mental health issue in any given year, and over half of us will experience a mental health issue at some stage during our lifetime.

Mental illness can affect each and every one of us; most of us will experience a mental health issue at some point in our lives, and one in five persons at any given time are experience a mental health issue.

People with a mental illness deserve inclusion in the community and may also need the services provided by police. 

Police officers in NSW are frequently called to incidents to assist and protect persons with mental illness and their friends and family.  In 2019, the NSW Police Force responded to 54,571 mental health related incidents across the State.

The NSWPF Mental Health Intervention Team (MHIT) works to ensure that when incidents occur the clinical and safety needs of the person and the safety of staff and others are met in the best way possible. 

The MHIT was designed based on world’s best practice, and tailored to the specific needs of NSW using expertise in health and policing.

It began in 2007, its programs were then trailed and independently evaluated leading to endorsement by the Commissioner’s Executive Team to be a permanent unit in 2009.

The MHIT has developed and delivered police training designed to:
  • Reducing the risk of injury to police and mental health consumers when dealing with mental health related incidents;
  • Improving awareness amongst front line police of the risks involved in the interaction between police and mental health consumers;
  • Improved collaboration with other government and non-government agencies in the response to, and management of, mental health crisis incidents, and;
  • Reducing the time taken by police in the handover of mental health consumers into the health care system.
It delivers a 1-day training package that has been rolled out NSW wide to all police officers and recruits.

Selected graduates from the 1 day course then complete the longer Mental Health Enhanced Police Practice Module (EPPM). These officers become accredited as specialist Mental Health Intervention Officers and are clearly identified by the wearing of a distinct metal MHIT Badge above their name plate.  Upon graduation, MHIT trained officers assume the role of prioritised first responders to mental health related incidents within their commands. 

The MHIT also trains one Inspector/Duty Officer within each of the 32 Police Area Commands and 26 Police Districts across the State, and these officers assume the role of Mental Health Contact Officer and local advocate for mental health related issues.

The PANSW has always been proud to support the MHIT. Police training is so often at the forefront of developing police capability. It is especially vital to ensure serving officers are prepared for the risks that they have been facing, pre and post Covid-19. The MHIT and EPPM is helping to achieve safer outcomes by giving our members practical tools to navigate complex situations.

We are greatly appreciative of the work of the MHIT and the capability it provides our members.