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Posted On: 12th Dec 2017

Help Not Handcuffs

Georgia is calling for better mental health training for the police
Georgia has created a film with Fixers to help train police
Senior Lecturer Clare Dickens supports Georgia's campaign

'When I’m on a high, I feel almost like I can fly. But the lows are very hard. You have no energy, you struggle to get out of bed. You can have really dark thoughts and feel you can’t cope with life anymore.' 

 

Georgia Edwards, from Hereford, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an illness which can cause extreme moods swings, when she was 20 and has spent many months being treated in hospital.

 

On more than one occasion, Georgia’s illness has led to dealings with the police when she has been experiencing a mental health crisis.

 

She is now working with Fixers to call for better mental health training for officers following these experiences. 

 

Georgia told her story on ITV News Central on December 14th.

 

'I remember once I was walking by the river,' says Georgia.

 

'The mental health team had tipped off the police that I might be a danger to myself. Because I was quite distressed and confused, I wasn’t able to communicate with them very well and I think this frustrated them and they got very heavy-handed with me.

 

'I felt they were quite aggressive. They restrained me and put me in handcuffs. I felt like a criminal.' 

 

Fixers has also helped 23-year-old Georgia to make a short film aimed at the police to encourage force chiefs to improve the training they give to officers dealing with someone experiencing a mental health crisis.

 

You can watch it here. 

 

As part of her research, Georgia spoke to Clare Dickens, a Senior Lecturer in Mental Health at the University of Wolverhampton.

 

 

Clare has devised a programme for police officers to help them better understand members of the public with mental health issues.

 

She says she asks them to remember why they joined the police in the first place.

 

'Many people who come into public services do so because they want to make a difference in people’s lives and potentially save them,' she says.

 

'I tell them it’s worth hanging on to that message and to consider how they respond to people in distress, knowing that they can be the difference in that person’s life and potentially save them by showing compassion.' 

 

Georgia adds: 'I do feel sorry for the police because I know they are often in the frontline with people experiencing a crisis.

 

'I‘d just like them to have better training and more awareness about mental health, and know how to de-escalate a situation without resorting to restraints or handcuffs.' 

 

To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.

 

Author: Paul Larsmon

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