Minister for Mental Health Matt Doocey told AM on Tuesday morning work is underway to establish new teams to work alongside police.
“Quite often when people call 111 with a physical health crisis, they get a health response, but currently in New Zealand when you call 111 with a mental health crisis, you get a criminal justice response,” he told AM co-host Melissa Chan-Green.
“So I think it’s quite right the officials are looking at how we can look at what’s called a co-response mental health team service. That’s about pairing up mental health professionals with police to go out in that time of need.”
He also believes it’s time for a more streamlined response involving other agencies, not just police.
“I think what we need to do is to triage those calls better in the emergency dispatch centres,” he said.
“Think about when there’s a risk to the person or the family or people around them. Quite rightly, the police would go out but there are other times when there’s mental distress that potentially mental health professionals can be paired up with our police officers or potentially just mental health professionals sent out on their own and I think that’s the work we need to look at.”