Mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders constitute a global public health problem of enormous proportions. Developing and implementing cost-effective interventions to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses and comorbid substance abuse disorders remains a challenge for multiple, interfacing service systems, from public health to social welfare to law enforcement, the courts, and corrections.
This work illuminates one key component of these systems, policing, highlighting the role of police officers as front-line workers in the community. THe project examines trends in thinking and practice and common challenges surrounding policing and mental illnesses internationally. The study authors suggest that police organizations (and their community and research partners) should not be uncritically accepting of existing intervention models without first engaging in a ‘Problem-Oriented Policing’ approach, designed so that available resources inter-lock to address the problems identified in particular geographical areas. It also examines challenges associated with implementing these steps, such as the need for police, health practitioners, and academic partners to collaborate in developing better and more integrated data collection systems to track health-related outcomes. Such extensive analysis is fundamental to the development of tailored police interventions for persons affected by mental illnesses.