University secures £1m mental health funding for working with police


The University of York has secured funding for new approaches to dealing with mental health problems from a government pot.

The new £1 million grant will see the University collaborating with North Yorkshire Police as part of a national scheme to develop cooperation between academia and police forces.

The collaboration aims to increase evidence-based knowledge, skills and problem solving approaches within policing.

York’s project will be led by Politics lecturer Professor Martin Smith who said: “According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four will experience a mental health issue in any year, and one in six will have a mental health condition at any one time.

“Over half of deaths following police contact involve people with a mental health issue, and people with mental health problems are up to ten times more likely to become victims of crime than the general population.

“Mental health involves considerable resources for both the police and other agencies, so we are delighted to collaborate with North Yorkshire Police and a number of councils to address these important issues.

“We recognise that our goal of creating better outcomes in the area of mental health requires a culture change that will start by better fitting approaches to the realities of those who work on the ground.”

The project will see a tailored part-time Master’s programme created at York, as well as the development ‘Research Cafés’ for people involved in mental health to discuss their experiences in managing mental health problems, among other initiatives.

This is in addition to improving internal processes and multi-agency agreements, which they hope will enable frontline staff to better identify both victims and offenders who would benefit from accessing mental health services.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “I want policing and crime reduction to have the same relentless focus on evidence as in our medical and legal professions – where knowledge and research are the foundation of professional practice.

“I am delighted that the 14 successful bids will see police forces collaborating with each other and world-class universities to build that evidence base and ensure that policing is based on a thorough understanding of crime and best practice.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson claimed the “police are not mental health experts” and that they “now look forward to developing our work with the university and seeing the outcome of this important area of work.”

This funding comes after a York Vision investigation revealed record numbers of students were using counselling services.