Karen McKeown, a mother-of-two from Bellshill in North Lanarkshire, has spoken out against the police’s handling of her partner’s mental health crisis. Luke Henderson tragically passed away in 2017 after struggling with mental health challenges. Karen believes that the police lack the training needed to effectively deal with such issues, a sentiment that is echoed in a recent report by the police watchdog.
According to Karen, she was often advised to involve the police when seeking help for Luke, especially if she believed he posed a threat to himself or others. However, she found that this approach only worsened Luke’s delusions, as he saw the police as adversaries. Instead of de-escalating the situation, their presence escalated it further. Karen highlights the injustice faced by individuals in similar circumstances and emphasizes the strain placed on police officers who lack the necessary support and resources to handle mental health crises.
The recent report by the police watchdog sheds light on how responding to mental health-related incidents hampers Police Scotland’s ability to address crime prevention, investigation, and detection. It emphasizes the need for a comprehensive support system that extends beyond the police force to ensure that those with mental health issues receive the care they require.
While acknowledging that the police perform well in certain areas, Karen believes that more needs to be done to improve their response to mental health crises. She hopes that her story will raise awareness about the importance of proper training and support for the police when dealing with individuals in mental distress.
Karen’s experience highlights the larger issue of the intersection between mental health and law enforcement. It serves as a reminder that a collaborative approach involving mental health professionals, social workers, and other support services is crucial in providing adequate care for those in crisis.
In light of Karen’s advocacy, it is hoped that her story will prompt a reevaluation of how mental health crises are handled by the police. By implementing comprehensive training programs and ensuring that resources are in place to support officers in these situations, there is the potential to create a system that prioritizes de-escalation and provides appropriate care for those in need.