Joint working can address mental health-related anti-social behaviour, says report

London Councils calls for social care, health and community safety to work together to address the mental health as a factor in anti-social behaviour

Social care, health and community safety teams should devise common approaches to identifying mental health conditions among people involved in anti-social behaviour, according to a report by London Councils.

The Anti-Social Behaviour and Mental Health report questioned community safety bosses in 15 London boroughs about the role mental health issues played in anti-social behaviour and found that many cases have a mental health dimension.

One borough said mental health issues were a factor in as many as 75% of the cases they dealt with.

The heads of community safety who took part also noted that mental health problems are encountered in both those who commit and those who report anti-social behaviour.

One told the report authors: “Anecdotally, more and more cases are arising that have elements of what we perceive to be mental health issues. For example, complaints of noises and vibrations happening while partnership colleagues or we are on site and yet can’t experience or hear anything for ourselves.”

The report concluded that closer working relationships between social care, health services, police and community safety teams could help to identify individuals involved in anti-social behaviour who have mental health issues and provide them with appropriate care.

In particular the report said that increased awareness among frontline community safety staff would make them better placed to identify early signs of mental illness and that the development of a common approach between professions could help secure better outcomes for individuals in need.

The report highlighted the work of the London boroughs of Ealing and Southwark as examples of good practice.

In Ealing, the council has created ‘community contact reports’ that draw together information about those involved in anti-social behaviour from a range of services, including social care and the police, to provide a fuller picture of the individual’s situation and the nature and degree of their illness.

This, says the report, has helped mental health professionals challenge patients who present a distorted picture of their lives, informed the development of care plans and allowed services to access funding to provide supported accommodation and support packages to individuals.

In Southwark the council’s anti-social behaviour unit works with the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to share information about individuals and use hospital discharge and care plans as a means of minimising repeat anti-social behaviour.

In addition, when signing people up to acceptable behaviour contracts the individual’s mental health support worker assists in drafting the contract, which the reports says often helps them recognise the impact their behaviour has.

Community safety bosses interviewed for the report identified closer multi-agency working with adult social care and mental health services as something that could improve their departments’ ability to address mental health problems they counter.

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